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Archive for the ‘Editorial’ Category

PostHeaderIcon A Bit of a Rant About Motorcycles…

I am fully aware that as a petrolhead of some standing among my like-minded fellows, I am obliged to be fond of anything with an internal combustion engine. But I can’t help saying this: I hate motorcycles with a passion! I think of them as pesky little insects with no place on public roads. When I come to power I shall ban these stupid things. 

Alright, alright, put the pitchforks down for a minute and let me elaborate. My problem with motorcycles has nothing to do with the machine itself. Well, maybe a little. The main issue though is the people, and how they use their bikes. A motorcycles can be an immensely useful thing. When I am craving a pizza after a hearty joint I rely on this vehicle’s speed and maneuverability to get it to me on time. The guy bringing me the pizza on the bike makes a living off of it. And they can be really good fun. Ask any young girl, and they will all tell you they prefer a lad with a fast bike to any Ferrari-owning gentleman. Motorcycles are exciting.

The thing is though, they are also a massive nuisance. Whether you live in a city or the country, motorcycles will always find a way to annoy you. I live in a busy metropolis, and I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been shaken awake in the middle of the night by the agonizing racket of a Kawasaki, or whatever the hell it was, passing under my apartment’s window at 200 miles an hour. And don’t get me started on traffic, and how irritating it is seeing a bike snake its way through a jam while you are sitting there, and how it is always your job as the driver of a car to watch out for them because if you hit them the rider will almost certainly be killed and you’ll have all of that to deal with.

Those living in the country are not much better off. The open spaces there act as an echo chamber for the bike’s exhaust and make it linger more as well. It could take anywhere from five to ten minutes for the noise pollution a joy rider make as he passes through a county to dissipate. All that time you have to tolerate that brain-piercing Vrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr noise poking irreparable holes in your soul. If we are not banning motorcycles from public roads, we should at the very least make them all electric to eliminate the noise. Most bikers are even unpleasant to look at, what with all that tight leather they wear and the pose they assume on the bike when going fast.

There is also an argument about motorcycles not being safe and all, but we don’t really care about that part. We’re not suggesting that a person who is so inconsiderate as to ruin everyone’s day with his loud exhaust deserves to get hurt or something… but as long as it’s their own doing… you know, maybe that’s just karma is what I’m saying. The danger is of course a big part of a bike’s appeal. That is why they are exciting and every 8 year old boy wants one. So perhaps we should wait for evolution to take care of this problem by eliminating those not bright enough to realize the risks of motorcycling, leaving us only with the considerate, conscientious riders who use their machines properly. But the problem with evolution is that it’s slow. We’d rather go for harsh punishment for the time being, see how that’ll work out…

The post A Bit of a Rant About Motorcycles… appeared first on Motorward.

PostHeaderIcon Car Makers and Customer Support in the Modern Era

As much as cars and the technologies integrated into them have changed over the past 100 years, the things that have to do with their maintenance and upkeep have not. You still have to take your car to the shop upon noticing the slightest irregularity in its operation, and consult a huge paperback book if you are not familiar with a function or a feature. 

That does not fly in the age of smartphones and homepods and artificial intelligence. We are going to need a whole new system of customer care and support for the modern era – one built around the already established ways of communication. If Amazon can use drones now to deliver your packages, car makers should be able to come up with some way to make servicing and maintenance of their vehicles more convenient for the customer. The digital age has enormous potential in this regard, if companies are willing to invest in it.

Let us illuminate our point with an example: the How-To online portals created by Chevrolet, enabling owners of pretty much every model they make to learn about the features and equipment of their vehicle as easily as a few clicks or touches of fingertips. And they go down to the very last details, like how to turn systems on and off, or how to pair a Bluetooth device. It also enables the customers to keep tabs on the maintenance of their cars by creating an account and getting monthly health checkups through the vehicle’s operating system. Now that’s a service we can call modern. And it’s all online and app-based, which is how everything should be these days.

So we are making headway with such systems as described above, but it’s not enough. Of course, a major shift is on the horizon with the surge of electric cars which have a whole different set of needs when it comes to maintenance. What’s more, cars are getting increasingly more ‘connected’ nowadays, which could result in new ways the whole customer support thing works. Right now a concierge service that would get you a one-on-one support with an operator – just like what you get from your internet provider, or cable company – is reserved for the most expensive, most luxurious cars. But with the rise of AI every customer can have their own private Siri-like assistant that would answer their questions, schedule services and such, and update the car’s systems as needed.

That will probably take another decade or so to become prevalent. What we can expect right now and frankly should demand from every car maker is more online and connected services like Chevrolet’s How-To guides and remote services. Humans are getting busier and busier every day, and less patient. Any service that would save them only a few minuted everyday would be a very welcome change. This could be an area for start-ups to explore. Time is money is an old saying, but it has never been more true than in the current era!

The post Car Makers and Customer Support in the Modern Era appeared first on Motorward.

PostHeaderIcon Car Accessories – Aftermarket or Factory-Fit?

If you look around the options list for pretty much every single new car that comes out these days, you notice a bunch of parts and accessories that only a few years ago where the specialty of the aftermarket firms. The market for car accessories and value-added packages has grown so lucrative, car makers themselves are now taking over, putting a lot of the aftermarket guys out of work. 

For a consumer getting their parts and accessories from the original manufacturer sounds like a better deal. For one thing, these parts are designed and built by the same people who have made the car. So they work better with the car. There is also less hassle with fit and finish, seeing as these are installed at the factory or the authorized dealership. What’s more, some time a manufacturer offers accessories as a sort of bonus, throwing in some nice free options to lure the customers in.

And it’s all well and good. But there is something to be said about choosing your car accessories from the catalog of a well-known aftermarket specialist. And guess what, many of the car makers know this too, which is why often they commission these firms to build the part for them. Take the new 2019 Toyota TRD Pro series. These cars come with really fancy suspension components that play a major part in giving any SUV serious offroad capabilities. And they have been designed and built by Fox and not Toyota. Likewise, when you want to order a sport exhaust system from BMW M GmbH, their top offers always come from Akrapovic. And what is the brand of the finest leather upholstery you see on as the most expensive item on the options list? Katzkin.

The thing about the aftermarket specialists is that since they are focused on only a few specific parts, they often do a much better job, quality-wise and also creatively, than a design team who has a deadline for finishing a new hood scoop because they have to come up with some fog lights for the next model in pipeline. Aftermarket guys also have a better understanding of the latest trends and what people really want  because they run a shop and deal with the customers first-hand. Factory designers are usually cooped up in a small office for months on end.

But for us, the biggest argument in favor of going aftermarket for our car accessories needs rather than sticking with factory options has nothing to do with technicalities. We go aftermarket simply because those guys deserve the business more. Car makers are huge, greedy conglomerates with an insatiable thirst for money. Whereas aftermarket shops are often family businesses, or the result of a single guy’s toil over many, many years. We’d rather help Joey Two Wrench down the block make this month’s rent than contribute to Mopar’s growing wealth!

The post Car Accessories – Aftermarket or Factory-Fit? appeared first on Motorward.

PostHeaderIcon Does Anyone Watch Formula One Anymore?

For all its glitz and glamour, Formula One has never really been a spectator’s sport, has it? I mean, putting the golden age of Senna and Hunt and Lauda aside for a moment, it’s either been dominated by one man the entire season, or else the racing has been so boring, we’d rather watch the Kardashians instead… Kim’s sex tape, that is, not that horrendous “reality” show.  

In fact, this past couple of years we didn’t even notice when the season kicked off and when it finished. There is just no getting away from the fact that Formula One is getting a lot less press than it used to, and with good reason. Here, I think, we have a classic case of necessary evil. Without getting into a philosophical discussion as to the morals of the matter, let me elaborate a little what I mean by that. And please take note that my point of view is that of a regular viewer wanting to watch some cool and exciting sports event on his sad Sunday evening. I have no claim whatsoever at being a motorsport expert.

Le’ts start from the good old days when Formula One was the most badass sport out there, attracting the likes of the above-mentioned legends. Those guys were comic book characters by today’s standards. They were not regular human beings, at least as we know men these days. They strapped themselves to vicious, monstrous machines with only a flimsy helmet to protect them, wrestling a heavy steering wheel and changing gears manually as they battled each other, braving atrocious weather and badly designed tracks with more death traps in them than the Amazon – the jungle, not the shop.

And those evil circumstances are exactly why today we call that period the golden age. Yes, a lot of those good guys died. There have been countless fires, disfigurements, and amputations. But the whole thing was about as good as spectacles ever get. Being a Formula One driver in the 70s and 80s was the closest you got to being a real-life superhero. And as tragic as those deaths were, I for one reckon those guys would not have it any other way. I mean, that’s how I would like to go: not as an old man on a hospital bed with tubes in my genitals, but as a young hero admired by friends and feared by foe, crashing at 300 km/h into a barrier on a difficult corner of a famous race track. I’ll take that kind of heroic death over a long and boring life any day of the week.

At any rate, rules changes after that. Cars got safer. Drivers were asked to wear more protective gear than an astronaut. And they kept introducing new driving aids and safety features to the point that if you are good at playing Gran Turismo on your PlayStation you have a real shot at making it in real motor racing. But hey, at least the likes of Vettel and Ricciardo are safe and sound to enjoy the enormous sums they are paid for pushing some buttons once a week. Thank heavens for that!

Another necessarily evil exorcised out of Formula One in recent years was the banishment of Bernie Ecclestone. Yes, he was a dictator, and sure, he did bend the rules left and right. But at least during his reign F1 was still watchable, if just for the rivalry between the magnificent drivers of the era. Granted, they were no Hunt and Lauda, but head-to-head battles between Häkkinen and Schumacher are still among the best Formula One moments of all time. But Bernie was too old-school for the health and safety-obsessed snowflakes that are in charge of things now. So they wrestled control of the sport out of his hands and are now busy turning it into the Real Housewives of Monte Carlo. The new regulations about the closed cockpit and all that nonsense aside, there is even talk these days of banning the grid girls and the champagne popping ceremony at the podium because they might offend four people with a Twitter account.

You wanna save F1? Stop the pussification of men…

The post Does Anyone Watch Formula One Anymore? appeared first on Motorward.

PostHeaderIcon Car Games – Realism vs Fun

Though I resent the connotations the word ‘millennial’ has come to evoke these days, there is no getting away from the fact that I am one. Us ‘millenis’ grew up watching the computers take over the world, keeping track of it all mostly through the evolution of video games. Those of us with an automotive fixation know history mostly by association with car games of a given era, and likely with which Need For Speed was all the rage back then. 

Now, as computers become more and more sophisticated and take the whole gaming experience to higher levels, developers try to utilize that enormous power to create ever more realistic games. And while that is technologically brilliant and quite marvelous engineering-wise, one has to ask oneself are these new breed of realistic simulations as fun as the old, crude versions? This permeates to all genres, but with car games in particular the issue is more glaring.

If you think about it, the most enjoyable parts of driving has to do with the noise and acceleration and how easy it is to go through a bend quickly, preferably with a bit of an oversteer to spice things up. You don’t think about the brake bias or the steering ratio or the exact percentage of grip you need for a given corner. You want to have fun and unwind, not do mental calculations. Well, unless you are a race car drive or something. But even they would want to savior a nice drive and keep the technical stuff for the track. Why is it, then, that car games are shifting more and more towards boring technicalities and as a result getting less and less fun?

Don’t get me wrong. There is a certain kind of joy to be had fiddling around with the setup of a race car and trying out different parameters to see the difference. But if you have ever tried one of those ultra-realistic car games, invariably racing titles, you know they have a steep learning curve. And even when you have mastered them instead of helping you unwind they cause you more stress when you play them! You crash so many times before you learn to finish a lap, it turns into a compulsion. On the other hand, when you play an ‘arcade’ kind of game in which you get to fool around a large city, play cat and mouse with the cops, get into drift competition, or do cool stunts, not only is it a LOT more fun, it also helps you relax and blow off some steam.

It’s not just car games, either. Take a good war game like Call of Duty. If it were to be ultra-realistic (which its higher difficulty levels kind of are) you would have thrown your PC or Xbox or PS4 out the window because the first bullet that came whizzing by would have killed you. Sometimes game developers forget that it’s all about make-believe. We like video games because the reality is often terribly boring. That is why we think of Gran Theft Auto as a much nicer car game, even though it really isn’t that, than, say, Gran Turismo. I guess for me the ideal car game would be one with a large, unlimited world to explore, good on and off-road courses, a selection of great cars, and just enough simulation in terms of physics and driving realism to present a fun challenge. It also shouldn’t be all about racing. It should have the option, but if I want to just drive around aimlessly, I should be able to that, too.

Tell us about which car games you think are the best right now in the comment section below…

Photos Courtesy of Gran Turismo/YouTube

The post Car Games – Realism vs Fun appeared first on Motorward.

PostHeaderIcon When Will Electrification Reach the Low-End of the Market?

Almost all car makers now have some sort of an electrification program, whether it’s a commitment to fit all their production models with an electric motor for better efficiency, or cutting to the chase and going full electric. It’s all well and good, but if you leaf through the names of the models set to be electrified over the next few years, almost all of them belong to the upper echelons of the market. 

And that is just not where the problem lies. When yo go out on the street, what kind cars you see most of? Cheap, crappy runabouts, obviously. When was the last time you came across an Audi A8 or a Mercedes CLS in your neighborhood? It’s all Dacias and Fiats and Peugeots out there. That is why one is right in thinking car makers are attacking the issue of fuel consumption and gas emissions from the wrong side. They are starting at the very top, while what they should be doing is electrify the low-end of the market, where the masses are to be found.

Of course, we realize that electrification is expensive, or at least it used to be, and so releasing a hybrid Dacia Sandero may not be financially feasible. So you could consider all the efforts in hybridizing the luxury sedans and SUVs as baby steps toward solving the big issue. We do think, however, the time has come for car makers the world over to focus their attention on the entry-level models. It is these cars that make up the bulk of the traffic out there, and since they often lack the latest technologies – because they need to be affordable – they are the main culprits as far as air pollution and all that goes.

Electrifying basic day to day cars has another advantage, and that is enhancing the quality of life in big cities. Two of the major issues any town dweller is familiar with are soul-piercing noises and lung-puncturing pollution. And I’m sorry to say this, but cars are among the main trouble makers with regards to these issues. The guy who buys the new CLS 53 with its electrified V6, or the pure electric Tesla Model S, or the hybrid Lexus, most likely he lives out in the suburbs where it’s always nice and quiet. Why are manufacturers focused on making that already good life better, while there is even more money to be made in the bottom-end if they come up with the proper solution?

Imagine a day when every car in your neighborhood is electric, or at least electrified. Imagine hearing no nasty rattle of a diesel engine when your neighbor goes to work in the morning in his crappy hatchback, and no loud and horrible exhaust noise when his son comes back home two in the morning in his souped-up coupe. While you’re at it, imagine also all the commercial vehicles going electric, too. The truck that brings you local supermarket milk and cereal will not send a cloud of noxious gases up to your apartment window as it’s being parked in front the shop. The same goes for the bus you drive along on the street. It has gone clean and it doesn’t make a deafening racket every time it sets off.

These might sound trivial stuff to someone who doesn’t live in the city center, but they are among the main reasons why city people are often in such bad mood. By making basic cars and commercial vehicles electric we can eliminate some of the major stress factors that plague the town people. It enhances their quality of life, they find themselves in a better mood, they do better at their jobs, and as a result the whole society improves. So car makers, leave off that luxury sedan and SUV and put more of those electric motors in affordable models!

The post When Will Electrification Reach the Low-End of the Market? appeared first on Motorward.

PostHeaderIcon Elements of a Great Motoring Experience

Driving, observed superficially, is a monotonous job one needs to do in order to get to one’s destination. But with a little bit of care and effort this seemingly boring task could be turned in an amazing experience. It could refresh you, put you in a good mood, and prepare you for the day ahead. After all, there is a reason why people “go for a drive” just for the fun of it.

What you need to take into account, though, is that like everything else worth doing, there are a number of conditions to a joyful and invigorating drive. Of course, it does first and foremost depend on the mood of the driver, and not every drive can be made exquisite. But by following the practices of a great motoring experience one can ensure that all is in order when the mood strikes and the opportunity presents itself. Below we list some of the most important elements of an excellent drive…

Maintenance

What puts most people off when it comes to cars and driving in general is having to deal with mechanical niggles that requires them to spend time and money to address them. Poor condition of a vehicle can also spoil what could be the drive of a lifetime. That is why proper maintenance and upkeep of the vehicle is of utmost important. It should be the first item on a serious motorists’ list of things to check to the optimum driving experience. The best course of action, of course, is to adhere to the service timetables presented to you by the manufacturer of your car. This practice will keep the machine in tiptop condition at all times, ready to give you that sweet sensation that only driving a good car on a good road can offer.

Route & Scenery

It might seem odd that we have included the route in our list of elements of great motoring, but bear with us. It is true that unless you are setting off with the sole purpose of enjoying a drive the route you take is often not in your power to choose. But the only thing external forces can dictate to you is the destination. By taking a few minutes and studying the map on your satellite navigation system you can choose a route that is most suitable to a great drive. You want the route with the least traffic, obviously, and you can choose which route best suits your current mood. If you fancy a bit of G force, pick a road with a lot of bends and chicanes. If on the other hand you desire some serious speed, look for the route with the longest straight. And if all you want is to relax and clear your mind, pick scenic route.

Music

We don’t know why, but our favorite tunes always sound a lot better when we listen to them driving along our favourite road in a favourite car. Proper music goes a long way to enhance your driving experience, which is why we never trust the radio to do the job. These days we all have our music collection on our phones, which is ideal, because it enables us to instantly pick a tune in tune with the moos we’re in. Of course, you need to make sure your audio system is smartphone compatible for this. But even if it isn’t, there are all sort of aftermarket kits that will do the job. There is a little proviso with this element of great motoring, however, and  that has to do with how music can alter mood. While driving you want to have all your faculties focused on the job. If a song or piece of music has a profound effect on you, it’d be better not to listen to it in the car.

Driving Gear

Granted, it is kind of ridiculous to dress up and put on special gear for a drive. But if you enjoy this, by all means indulge in it. This is especially true of classic car drivers who may want to first put on their goggles and driving gloves before setting off. It is not all about personal accessories, either. Every driver can enhance their motoring experience by getting the proper smartphone kit, cup holders, even sun visors and window int. It is these little details that add up to make a big difference in the way a simple drive might feel. Some, of course, go further and modify stuff like the gear shift or even steering wheels and pedals in order to have a more “personalized” take on the task.

The Car Itself

Last but not least, the vehicle with which you go in search of that sensational drive has to have the right specs for what you are after. If have a family sedan, a nice and relaxing drive could give you a kick. If you have a sports car, a spirited drive around the B-roads is the thing to do. SUV owners find that a spot of light off-roading in the country will make them feel better about purchasing a 4×4 vehicle when they live in the city center. You don’t necessarily have to have a big, expensive car to enjoy a good drive. With the right mindset every car on every road can give you a proper driver’s high!

The post Elements of a Great Motoring Experience appeared first on Motorward.

PostHeaderIcon Emotional Attachment to Cars – It’s Only Natural!

Believe me, I get it. Unless you are a monumental car bore, getting emotional about a car is probably the most uncool thing you can think of. After all, what kind of person forms an attachment to bits of metal, plastic and oil? But you see, us car guys know that that exists and it’s real. Many of us have experienced it. So is there something wrong with us?

No. Well, yes, maybe. Everyone has faults and flaws. But as far as your emotional attachment to your car goes, it is only natural. Humans grow fond of people and things because those people and things satisfy certain needs they have, be it material or spiritual. I’m not saying you fall in love with your car because it gets you from A to B. You love that thing because of the memories you associate with it, because of how it once made you feel.

And that is the most natural of human behaviors. Now, some people say this should only apply to other human beings or at least other living things. But that is not necessarily true, because at the end of the day this is all about biology. We don’t really have much say in it. No matter how much poets and romantics try to convince you that it’s a matter of soul and spirit, science proves that falling in love and forming attachments are, in their essence, biochemical reactions to external stimuli.

When you fall in love with a girl, it is not her beautiful face or rocking body that causes it. It is the secretion of certain chemicals in your bloodstream those features trigger that result in that most celebrated of human peculiarities. What’s more, your brain subconsciously apprises the features and characteristics of that girl against your needs and ideals – accumulated throughout your life depending on your genome and epigenome – and decides if that person is the one to address them satisfactorily. Meanwhile your conscious mind is busy ogling those luscious lips and bangin’ bosom.

What all of that means is, you can have the same “emotions” about your pet, your phone, and indeed your car. Yes, even objects can trigger that condition in us as long as they click with certain conscious or unconscious conditions we have inside us. In fact, the word on the sidewalks of science is that in a few decades there will be robots that take better care of us physically and emotionally than any human ever could.

For me, though, forming an emotional attachment to a car is mostly about memories, what that car reminds me of… or who it reminds me of. It’s not just that we get used to them. Most of us experience our first kiss in a car, our first cigarette, or first guy trip. It is only natural that we develop feelings for them. Just make sure those feelings don’t get out of hand!

The post Emotional Attachment to Cars – It’s Only Natural! appeared first on Motorward.

PostHeaderIcon Are Brain-Controlled Cars The Next Big Thing?

Right now there is a lot of brouhaha in the automotive world about the autonomous vehicles and how advanced they are getting. But we can’t help thinking it is very much like the buzz created by fuel cell technology when it first came into focus a decade or so ago. No one is taking the time to research if the real world is ready for an influx of robot cars. And there is yet another new thing on the horizon: brain-controlled cars. 

Although the concept of brain-controlled cars may seem at first glance an even more outlandish idea than having an electronic brain driving the vehicle, when one thinks about the basics of it, it actually makes more sense. The whole thing about autonomous vehicles is that you can just sit back and let the machine do the grunt work. Well, you can do the same with a brain-controlled car, only here it is still you who makes the decisions… only using the power of your mind – the “force” as it were.

The big question, of course, is if such a thing is possible in the first place. I mean, the whole thing sounds like something out of a sci-fi novel or something. But you will be pleased to know there are already efforts going on trying to utilize the special characteristics of the human brain to make driving easier and safer. Serious readers of our blog have certainly come across our piece about Nissan’s new Brain-to-Vehicle system whose aim is to not only augment the drivers input to the vehicle, but also predict what he or she may do next by learning their behavioral patterns. This has enormous benefits with regards to autonomous driving as well.

It is, in its bare essence, a simple matter. You see, the brain emits electric waves. That is how the neurons inside the brain communicate with one another and create our consciousness,or whole reality. And it has been proven time and again in various scientific experiments that the brain waves for any particular task we want to do start flowing around fractions of second before we ourselves become aware of the decisions we have made. All it takes to control something with your brain, then, is to harness these electric signals and interpret them to machine language, so that the machine can do the work for you. You think it, and it will do it. This is something we can already accomplish on smaller scales. Surely, it is no harder to develop a practical version of this than coming up with a way to run cars on hydrogen or make them drive on their own.

The biggest hurdle, it appears, is the medium through which the brain waves can be caught and utilized in a fail-proof manner. Right now the best method for reading brain signals is the EEG (Electroencephalography) using that funny hats we are all familiar with. But there are other, one would say more drastic, measures. There are probes, for example, that can be implemented deep inside the brain, which is a normal a medical procedure. Of course, right now nobody is willing to have their brains drilled into unless they absolutely have to. But imagine a future where we all walk around with chips in our brains and nano-tubes in our organs, fixing our natural imperfections. One can imagine a whole range of features one would want implemented on his “chip” one of would could be the ability to control cars remotely.

OK, granted, we may have let our imaginations run away with us there. The more likely scenario is that lite brain-control features will be implemented along with the existing and future autonomous technologies to improve the whole thing. The only thing that could possibly render the question of utilizing brain waves moot is the rise of AI. If they come up with an artificial intelligence that is way cleverer than we could ever hope to be, then what is the point of using our brains at all? We just put that AI in charge turn ourselves into vanilla zombies!

The post Are Brain-Controlled Cars The Next Big Thing? appeared first on Motorward.

PostHeaderIcon How to Raise Enough Money for a Sports Car

Before we delve into the subject of this post which is how to raise enough money so you can get the sports car of your dreams, we have to point out this article is not intended as a definitive guise. These are some unorthodox ways for the petrolheads who are burning to get behind the wheel that fast, sexy car they’ve had their eyes on for years. The best way of going about buying your favorite car is years of hard work and saving. But, try these methods at your own risk. Who knows, maybe they work!

Casino

Yep, safe gambling ha always been a favorite shortcut for the money seekers the world over. Do notice, pray, that the crucial word here is safe, by which we mean you ought to pick a reputable venue for trying out your luck. Ours is Dunder Casino for its good features and bonuses. Take into account that there is a degree of self restraint that needs to be applied here on your part to get the best out of your casino experience. Do not overdo it; that’ll bring you to ruin. When you got enough money for the down payment on the car, take a break. And don’t put all your money into it. You can start with roulette and spin machines, and if lady luck is with you you can go up to poker tournaments where you can win sizable cash prizes.

Play the Stock Market

Let’s be honest, this is also gambling dressed in an official suit. The same rules apply here. Don’t get greedy. Know that you are not here to make a career out of stocks. Just deal enough times to raise the money you need for the car and then quit. The hard-core pros of the stock market don’t really have a life as such because all they care about are numbers. That becomes their whole life. That is not the petrolhead way. If you set yourself the goal of making a certain amount of money so you can get a certain car you won’t fall into the vortex and you won’t become a wolf. Interestingly, those who enter this market with a set goal often do better because they make fewer wrong decisions. They don’t want it all, and that is the key.

Wheeling and Dealing

Alright, so this is more a step by step way of getting to the car of your dreams. But it’s a surefire way. And it’s about dealing cars, so for a petrolhead it is not really work, it’s fun. What you need to so here is buy low and sell high. And do that enough times until your capital is big enough for that flashy sports car you desire. You start small, buying cheap cars and doing them all, learning the tricks of the trade along the way, and move up to bigger and more expensive stuff. The key here is to add value to your purchase so that you can shift it for a higher price. You need excellent mechanical as well negotiation skills for this. Don’t despair if you lost money on a deal. As long as you make up on the next one you’ll be fine at the end of the day.

Get a Loan

This is only advisable for those petrolheads with a permanent job and fixed salary. You are going to be paying monthly installments for the foreseeable future. So don’t go anywhere near it if you are the free spirited type who can hold a 9 to 5 job. And that’s the problem really with this method. A true sports car lover wants to be out on the open road all the time. He can’t be pinned down. This works best for the petrolhead who has given his dream life and is now content with pretending he’s living free on the way to work by getting a drop top sports car with a loud exhaust. Well, there’s nothing wrong with that.

If you know of more quick ways suitable for a petrolhead to raise enough cash for a sports car share them in the comments section.

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PostHeaderIcon Choosing Your First Supercar – What to Consider

I know, I know, thinking about buying a supercar is nothing more than a fantasy for most of us. But hey, you never know. You could wake up tomorrow and find yourself in possession of a big pile of money to blow on your first supercar. Maybe your rich aunt dies and lives you the cash, or maybe you get lucky using your 100 Free Spins on Starburst and win big. So it’s good to be prepared and make the right choice when the time comes. 

You need to know how to go about getting your first supercar because, even though people won’t admit it, when you have the chance you will most likely rush into the first showroom and get the first flashy thing that catches your eye. That’s human nature. Life and its opportunities are fleeting things and we tend to seize them without much thinking. That is why it behooves one to do the homework in advance and bank the knowledge, so that one can be confident one will not come to regret the decision made in a hurry.

At any rate, some of you may think there is nothing to buying your first supercar because it all comes down to the matter of taste. And you’re right. The thing is though, that is what we’re on about it here: training your taste. If you know about the general consensus on what makes a car cool or good or popular, that understanding will affect your taste in picking the car. A gold wrapped Corvette might seem like an enticing choice at first glance, but when you hear what people say about the person driving around in such a thing, you’re going to be have a second look at that silver Porsche.

So yes, the first thing is color. Of course, we’re not suggesting you have to pick a boring color. It is a supercar you are buying, after all. But the color must fit the character of the car. Yellow is a fine color on a Lamborghini, but on a Rolls-Royce Wraith it is not very savory. Basically, the darker the shade, the more dignified it is. And that is an important piece of knowledge, because dignity is a much cooler quality than the ability t turn a lot of necks, which is what most first-time supercar buyers are after. You should fight this impulse. Trust us, you’ll get more and better quality tail with dignity than flashiness.

Another important factor to consider is performance. What you don’t want to do is get a super hot, super fast, track-oriented machine as your first supercar. You might think you can handle it, but chances are in the first week of ownership you will end up in a ditch somewhere, having hurt yourself and the expensive machine. So don’t go for the GT2 RS as your first Porsche. Start with the Turbo S. You can always upgrade later.

That leads us to the next advice, which has to do with money. You can never go wrong buying a special, limited edition supercar. They are way cooler than regular versions, they are often highly customizable, and they hold their value a lot better than standard models. In fact, chances are you are going to make a healthy profit when you come to sell your special edition supercar. Residual value matters because life has many ups and downs. You may not get lucky twice, so may not be able to afford an upgrade for your second supercar. So having one that appreciates in value over time is a nice little perk.

Last but not least, do not overlook practicality. Granted, you don’t buy a supercar to get the groceries in. But ideally you would want to be able to go on a nice long road trip in it. Having a decent sized boot and seats that don’t break your back after 5 miles are pleasant features to have. A fantastic drive is not just about how much power you have. It’s the combination of many things, and comfort and inconvenience are big parts of it.

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PostHeaderIcon Car Flicks – Why Most Filmmakers Get Them Wrong

It is not easy explaining to non-car guys why we car guys find these hunks of metal so fascinating. We can go on and on about the joys of driving a good car on a good road, but someone who hasn’t experience it cannot visualize and therefore won’t understand it. That’s why it is important that filmmakers making car movies present a correct picture of what true petrolhead-ism is all about. Sadly, though, most of them get it completely wrong. 

Now, I could go into details on what is the matter with the established ‘car flick’ recipe, but again, only a true petrolhead would get the picture. So I’m going to let a man who doesn’t particularly like cars explain for other non-car people why most car films these days suck. Here’s Bill Maher talking some sense about Baby Driver and other car flicks of this type:

As a guy who grow up loving cars and now makes his living from them, I agree with everything Bill said about car movies. I hated Baby Driver even before I knew Kevin Spacey was a little too fond of babies, and I have never gone to see a Fast and Furious movie past the second installment. And don’t even get me started on all those horrendous car-themed B-movies where every woman in the film – and they always look like strippers from my local joint – wants to sleep with the hero ’cause he can… wait for it… drive a car!

I realize people like to see stunts and car chases and a handsome actor pretending he can do a handbrake turn while making love to an even more beautiful actress. But frankly these movies are an insult to real car guys. They depict us either as self-involved assholes with a penchant for steroids and Viagra, or dumb losers whose only redeeming quality is, in Bill’s words, making an engine go vroom vroom. It is not really the filmmakers’ fault, though. They are not car guys, and so when they are commissioned to do a car flick they go and see what has made a lot of money before and they try to put their own spin on the tried and tested recipe.

But unless they are Quentin Tarantino whose magic touch can turn those basic ingredients – superficial ‘cool guy’ driver, fast car, chase, crash, etc.- into something as artistic as Death Proof, chances are the movie they make is going to be yet another revolting, idiotic, cringeworthy waste of time. And that brings us to what I think is wrong with the whole thing.

A good car movie must have very little to do with cars. I know that sounds self-contradictory, but let me explain…

For me the best movie ever made about cars – and you may disagree with me, that’s fair enough – is Gran Torino. Not Bullitt, not Vanishing Point, even though I prefer it to Bullitt, and certainly not any of the stupid F&F stuff, but Gran Torino. This movie is named after the car. The main object of desire and the source of most conflicts in the movie is that car. And yet there are only six or seven lines in the entire piece dealing directly with the car. This is what I mean when I say car movies must not be about cars.

The love of the car must be in the subtext, not shoved down our throats with elaborate stunts and vulgar behavior on the part of the car guy protagonist. There is a scene in Gran Torino where the hero, Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood), washes the star car of the movie – a Ford Gran Tornio he has owned for a very long time – parks it in front of his lawn, sits on the porch, lights a cigarette and just enjoys looking at it. “Ain’t she sweet,” is all Walt says. And that is the best goddamn car scene I have ever scene in any movie.

Now compare this to all those typical action-packed car scenes in Fast & Furious or those Jason Statham flicks like Mechanic or Transporter. If any of my friends who knows I’m a car guy recommends any of those silly garbage to me because they think I would like it, because I’m a car guy, I get so mad I demand an apology. I want them to see that Eastwood character and be reminded of me as a car lover, not Vin Diesel or freakin’ Tyrese Gibson. These guys aren’t cool. They are embarrassing.

Filmmakers must stop depicting car guys as arrogant, uncultured, mostly bald, muscle enthusiasts whose idea of a good time is a hearty burnout. Most of us are pretty decent people…

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PostHeaderIcon Japanese Car Makers and Their Love of Robots

When one talks of robotics in the context of automobile production, one invariably thinks of the ungainly metal arms busily swinging from side to side on the assembly line, welding and bolting and putting bits of a car together. But there is an other side to the relationship between car makers and the field of robotics, one that is much more sophisticated and, at least for now, entirely Japanese.

If you have been to one of those big technology shows such as CES in Las Vegas, you have noticed that while some of the big European auto brands turn up with a new infotainment system they are way too proud of, the Japanese manufacturers, namely Honda and Toyota, quietly wow the crowd with their humanoid robots, capable of walking and talking and interacting with people. Now, one might wonder why should a car maker care about humanoid robots, or the this aspect of the robotic sciences, at all. And that is the question here. Why are Honda and Toyota investing so much in these things and keep coming up with ever more sophisticated, ever more human-like, machines? And are other car makers missing out not taking part?

It appears the Japanese are not content with replacing human workers in factories with robots, they want to replace humans everywhere wholesale!

It is kind of natural for the automakers to take the lead in this matter, when you think about it, because they are industry giants with almost limitless resources, worldwide connections, and a team of some of the best minds in the world in their R&D departments. What’s more, they have the facilities for making the motors and actuators and lightweight body components, as well as electrical systems, needed to make these robots. Another important aspect of this is Artificial Intelligence, which is the cornerstone of advanced robotics. You can make your robot as man-like as you want. But as long as its remote-controlled and cannot think for itself it is hardly scarcely more than just a toy.

AI is becoming increasingly important in all walks of life and especially in the auto industry with the whole autonomous revolution. This alone could put car makers with a strong robotics program ahead of others. But even that does not fully explain Honda’s and Toyota’s obsession with humanoid robots. Maybe their car business is just cover for a secret robotics project with the ultimate aim of assembling a robot army to take over the world!

With that disturbing thought let us now check out some of the latest and greatest humanoid robots built by the giant Japanese brands…

Kirobo Mini: This cute little thing is a palm robot measuring only 10cm in height and it’s basically an advanced communication partner. Think of it as a Japanese Siri, only not impersonal. It turns its head toward the person speaking and engages in casual conversation while moving its head and hands. Its compact size means it can be taken just about anywhere. The Kirobo is basically a robot pet that can talk.

Toyota T-HR3: This is more interesting. The T-HR3 is a full humanoid robot in the same vein as Honda ASIMO. Having the same size as a 10 year old, this creature has a full range of motions and is designed to explore and work out the kinks of robot interaction with the real world. It also has a new remote maneuvering system that mirrors user movements to the robot. which makes it pull off some impressive, but at the same time kind of creepy, moves. The video below shows off the capabilities of the T-HR3:

Latest Honda Robotic Concepts: With their humanoid robot game on the lock, Honda is now delving into the field of artificial intelligence, and energy solution. They have come up with a range of new robots, to be shown off at CES 2018, offering a wide range of capabilities:

3E-A18, a companion robotics concept that shows compassion to humans with a variety of facial expressions

3E-B18, a chair-type mobility concept designed for casual use in indoor or outdoor spaces

3E-C18, a small-sized electric mobility concept with multi-functional cargo space

3E-D18, an autonomous off-road vehicle concept with AI designed to support people in a broad range of work activities

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PostHeaderIcon Tyres Needn’t Be a Source of Anxiety

Since you are reading a car blog I think it is safe to assume you are the kind of motorists who worries about every last detail of his or her car. I know I am. Every time my car isn’t sweet as honey and completely healthy I cannot rest until I have addressed the issue. Now, one of the things that has caused me great distress over the years is the state of my tyres. But a recent study shows my concerns may have been misguided. 

I admit, sometimes this obsession with the health of the car becomes compulsive. And yes, before you make your jokes, it does happen more often when I am not dating. But anyway, Under those episodes of automotive hypochondria the mere sight of a dirty tyre is enough to send me straight to mytyres.co.uk in search of a new set, and then begins days of research into the size, compound, and even tread pattern of the tyres, because there is always a new design and it claims to be better and more efficient and etc. It’s a good thing, then, has a wide variety of product as well as handy search tools to find the rubber you are after.

But here’s the thing: the old guideline about when to change your tyres may have been all wrong. A study conducted by a group of German automotive journalists – and those are, as the saying goes, the best kind you can get, revealed that the industry-recommend 3mm, or in some cases 4mm, tread as the standard indication that your tyres need changing is way too pessimistic. After conducting a series of thorough tests that covered a range of criteria across snowy, wet and dry conditions, including braking, handling, skid pan performance, mileage, rolling resistance and aquaplaning, AutoBild said it was “able to rebut the general request to change tyres at half tread depth.”

Mind you, the benchmark of their test was the excellent Michelin’s CrossClimate + tyre. But still, they try to make the argument clear with an analogy. They say “it is inconceivable that people would throw away an apple after only eating half of it, or that football games would finish after 45 minutes.” That puts in perspective the point about the tyres and makes you think about not just all the unnecessary cost the old belief can impose, but also the environmental impact of chucking away tyres that are probably good for another year or so.

There is a proviso here, mind, and that is while most tyres are safe down to the legal minimum tread depth of 1.6mm, it doesn’t apply to all manufacturers. As always, spending more on a better brand now will save you more on the other end.

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PostHeaderIcon Autonomous Cars – How Are We Doing Infrastructure-Wise?

Every time some new technology becomes the main trend in the automotive world, manufacturers scramble to get their hands on it and, if possible, position themselves at the forefront of the game. In doing so they often forget to take into account the more important parts of developing a new technology, like is the real world ready for it? It happened with the whole hydrogen fuel cell thing, and now it’s happening again with autonomous cars. 

It was in early 2000s when when fuel cells became all the rage and everybody in the business was convinced they were the saviors of our fragile planet and the answer to all the problems we face with fossil fuel cars. They used hydrogen as fuel and the only emission they made converting that to electricity was water vapor. What was not to love? So most car makers went in pursuit of this technology and came up with a bunch of fairly decent models. Then when they were ready to let fuel cell cars take the world by storm they stopped, looked around, and realized there were no infrastructure to support those grand plans. There were no hydrogen fueling stations, and worse than that, nobody had figured out a workable way of making hydrogen fuel.

So most of the plans were scrapped and they started all over again with electric cars. Even Honda, whose FCEV Clarity was almost a sure thing, shelved the thing and recently launched a plug-in hybrid model. One cannot help but think the same will prove true of the autonomous cars. Anybody and everybody is developing them these days, regardless of who would want to use this technology and would it work in the first place. Of course, the first tests have been promising and all. But these are individual cases. These are like the early fuel cell concepts which seemed all but perfect. To make the new technology relevant we first need to make sure there is a good base, and a good reason, for its existence. And it seems not enough people are researching that.

It is great that a regular sedan can nowadays navigate itself through traffic and avoid hitting stuff. But all the effort that goes into making it capable of doing that seems kind of wasted if the cars behind it can still run into it because they have erratic human drivers. With autonomous cars just a few won’t do us any good. It should be all or nothing. Either make all the cars out there self-driving, or just forget the whole thing.

Thing is though, unlike the whole fuel cell and plug-in EV situation, autonomous driving is not a must for us. It’s a technology we are developing as a sort of luxury. We don’t really need it, but it’s a nice thing to have. So it has business appeal, and as a result there are those who are thinking about it like a start-up technology. Take Renault for example. They weren’t the first to get into the autonomous game, but now that they are in it they are, evidently, more serious about it than most of the pioneers. They are one of the few considering infrastructure-level solutions such as vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2X) connectivity solutions under real-world driving conditions. With self-driving cars they see the big picture, which is why they are working with French Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, regional authorities, infrastructure operators, universities and research centres to make sure everything is in place before they launch a fleet of robot cars on public roads hoping they would work.

If we want autonomous cars to go mainstream, and it seems that we do at least for public transportation to begin with, this is the kind of approach that will guarantee a fruitful outcome. Focusing on individual concepts and testing them in controlled situations is not enough to make self-driving cars road-worthy. Car makers should first perfect the infrastructure technologies and then worry about small details. For instance, with V2V and V2X systems working at optimum level, there would probably no need to spend all that time and money fine-tuning radars and sensors on each model that comes out.

We like the idea of getting to work in the morning relaxing on a massage chair, drinking coffee and reading the news. So we really hope self-driving cars become prevalent in a satisfactory and lasting way. We also hope they find a way to make those fuel cell stuff work, because having to plug in your car at the end of the night like a phone is not natural!

The post Autonomous Cars – How Are We Doing Infrastructure-Wise? appeared first on Motorward.

PostHeaderIcon Car Design – Are We at the End of the Road?

I am not suggesting for a minute that cars aren’t good-looking these days or that we don’t get iconic designs anymore. The issue is, they seem to be a dying breed. Compared to only a few decades ago the number of truly beautiful new cars is at an all-time low, and it keeps dwindling as the focus shifts to safety and efficiency and, these days, electrification. 

The automobile has been around for more than a hundred years now, and in that time designers have tried pretty much everything. It appears they are almost at their wits’ end. There are only so many tricks of creativity one can come up with when one is restricted not just by newfangled regulations, but also the natural order of things. A car has to have four wheels at the four corners and a fairly box-shaped bit in the middle where adults can sit. This is why we don’t have cubist car design which, come to think of it, would have been pretty awesome. So it’s actually kind of amazing car designers have kept us amused with new shapes and details for such a long time given what they have to work with.

The eye of the beholder…

Of course, some of you may not agree with the premise here. You might think cars are more beautiful these days than they have ever been, and you can cite some good examples. It is true that beauty is subjective and what one man finds trouser-troublingly pretty, another may find completely revolting. But if you rewind the tape of time to, say, the Sixties, you will find cars that everybody agreed were a piece of art. Heck, they are universal symbols of beauty even to this day. Take Jaguar E-Type as an obvious example. Unless you have cataracts or glaucoma or something like that, that car is going to melt your heart and warm soul with its perfect proportions and exquisite details that tell the tale of happier times.

If you can’t win’em all…

But we can’t have stuff like that anymore. These days the headlights have to be a certain height and the bonnet a certain angle so as to protect the pedestrian you might run over. And you have to take into account the size of the modern prosperous human beings with their fat bellies. So even when you come up with a new MINI or Fiat 500, the only thing they share with the brilliant original design is the badge. With all of that to be mindful of, and given the above-mentioned fact about us being through a centruy of car design having seen everything, those in charge of penning the new models have the devil’sown job trying to appeal to everybody.

And they often fail. When try to please everybody, you please nobody. Knowing this, designers seem to have adopted a new strategy. They are coming up with increasingly radical looks for their car. They deliberately make their designs polarizing to ensure they at least win the support of half the population. It also gets people talking about their work, which is free publicity.

Good for them, you know, but that means we don’t get universally beautiful cars anymore. They really have run out of ideas how to design those.

The difficult second album…

Designers also use this trick when they have no idea how to follow up a successful first design. By sheer luck, or the immense talent of just one individual, sometimes a car maker puts out a model that is almost flawlessly beautiful and charming and magnificent. It does well in the market for a few years, and then the time comes for it to get a facelift. And more often than not the facelift ends up ruining the whole thing. There are many examples for this, but one of the most glaring is the case of Kia Forte Koup. The first generation of this car came out of the blue with a remarkably handsome design – certainly unexpected for a first-time economy coupe by a Korean brand. The car itself wasn’t anything special, but it looked great and, along with other Kias of that era (we’re talking early 2010s) put the brand on the map.

And then they came up with the second-generation model, and… well, it looked like a bloated frog. It seemed they had no idea how to improve on that marvelous first design, so they decided to beat it to death with a bat, leave its corpse in the sun for a few days, and then present the result as the new model. They could have just kept offering the first one, you know.

Where do go from here…

Well, not up, that’s for sure. At least as long as the current trends reign supreme. And to be honest we are not that hopeful for the so-called electric revolution and the whole autonomy thing which will invariably affect the looks of the car as well as their underpinnings. Electric cars offer a little bit more flexibility as regards space and packaging, meaning designers will have more room to play with and try new ideas in. As for self-driving car, it could potentially turn the entire car design culture on its head if it becomes mainstream by eliminating some of the old restrictions. But it’s a double-edged sword. And anyway, it’s not like beauty is a top priority when it comes to EVs and SDs.

Car design might be at the end of the road. But it could also be switching to an entirely new path.

The post Car Design – Are We at the End of the Road? appeared first on Motorward.

PostHeaderIcon New Tesla Roadster – Is It Game Over for Traditional Sports Cars?

So yesterday Tesla revealed a new version of their Roadster sports car, giving us all a 2020 Volt jolt. It isn’t just how much more advanced the new Roadster is compared to its predecessor, but how much of a game-changer this thing is for performance cars everywhere. Tesla Roadster is so ahead of everything else out there, one has to ask oneself, are traditional sports cars done for?

Even taking into account Elon Musk’s tendency to bolster the facts about the achievement of his companies, the numbers this new Tesla Roadster claims are mind-boggling. It took Volkswagen, a huge conglomerate with almost limitless resources, many decades and endless expensive tests and trials to make the Bugatti Chiron accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in under 3 seconds. And that’s a fully-fledged, multi-million dollar hyper car, mind you. Then along came this Musk fella telling us his tiny little sports car does that in under 2 seconds!

Now granted, the Roadster does not really belong in the sports car category price-wise – it starts at $200K – but still, it just blows everything you can throw at it clean out of the water. They haven’t mentioned any horsepower figure yet, but electric motors in the Roadster generate 10,000 Nm of wheel torque. That, and the fact that all four wheels are driven, makes it possible to hit 60 mph from standing still in 1.9 seconds and run the quarter-mile in 8.8 seconds. Those are dragster numbers, and you can have them in a zero-emission sports car that covers a distance of 650 miles on one charge.

How fast is fast enough?

Now, one could argue that unless you are a professional drag racer a 0-60 time of 1.9 seconds is a meaningless number. What on earth could you be doing that would require you to accelerate at that rate? Can your body take that kind of force without something going wrong with it, anyway? This is just a tool for inexperience drivers to kill themselves, or others, with. Those are fair points all. But if humans were always content with their small achievements, where would they be now? Most likely still in the African Savannah. It’s this ambition, however unreasonable or greedy at first, that drives us forward. Of course, you don’t need to go from 0 to 60 in 1.9 seconds, or 2.5 seconds, or 4 seconds. But the fact that now you can do that is pretty delightful.

And that is why we shouldn’t mourn the demise of the traditional performance cars should this new Tesla bring about their extinction. Cars like this do to our current high performance machines what the original automobile did to the horse and carriage. It renders them pointless. You can go faster, farther and cleaner in the new stuff. It will get to a point where you have to really struggle to find a reason for keeping your fossil fuel-powered car. Before this new generation of electric cars shaving a second off the 0-60 time of a car took innovation, sophisticated engineering, and years of toiling at the drawing board as well as the test track. Now all it takes is higher voltage and a few lines of computer code.

Of course, not everything is speed and acceleration. An electric car doesn’t have the same feel as a nicely sorted V8 or flat-six sports car. Most importantly, it lacks noise, which as we know makes up a huge part of an enjoyable drive. But if you look at the market and try to determine what is the most important factor that drives the sales of a type of vehicle up, that is trend. People lived alright with their sedans and hatchbacks before the SUVs and crossovers emerged. Now everybody wants those because they are cooler. The same will happen with performance cars. Apart from a few car nuts who are more attached to their turbos and boxer engines than their children, most people are going to want the latest and greatest. And that’s stuff like the new Tesla Roadster.

Do not despair, though. You still have plenty of time to enjoy your gas-guzzling sports car before they get consigned to the pages of history books. The Tesla is set to launch in 2020, and even then it’s going to take a while for it to find its place in the market, and for the copycats to come out with their own super-high-performance EV.

So go out this weekend and have a blast. The end is near!

The post New Tesla Roadster – Is It Game Over for Traditional Sports Cars? appeared first on Motorward.

PostHeaderIcon Be Wary of Maintenance Costs!

When buying a car most of us, me included, tend to get so caught up in the looks and performance of the machine, we might overlook some really important factors. Sure, we check the body and suspension, run the engine and make sure the equipment work. But rarely do we take into account the costs of maintaining the car. And often it comes back to haunt us a few months down the line. 

This applies to both new and used cars. In fact, in some cases a new car needs more attention during the first couple of services than an old one. And the more expensive, sporty or luxurious your car is, the more temperamental it is, which means you need to lavish more care on it than your human baby. Service and maintenance, then, is something we all need to pay attention too when we chose our new rides. Yes, a lot of it is about the money. But more important than that is the headache. I love cars to death, but even I cannot be bothered to spend time in the mechanic or tire shop. I’d rather spend my time driving the car and going places in it. I want it to service me, not the other way around.

In light of this realization let us to go through a few of the checks one needs to do in order to enjoy years of trouble-free, low-cost motoring. Of course, consulting with an expert and paying a small fee to have the car you are looking to buy apprised is always recommended. But if you have the wit and knowledge to recognize some of the more glaring red flags, you can save yourself that cost as well. Just to be clear, determining the maintenance cost of a vehicle is apart from gauging its overall health. The maintenance has to so with what keeps the vehicle in good health, but it could prove as costly as a full repair job.

The first and, most obvious, item on your checklist for ensuring you won’t end up with big maintenance bills is oil and fluids. Now, some may say that’s being stingy wanting fresh oil in a second-hand car you want to buy. But that depends on the make and model of the vehicle. Sure, if it’s an average family sedan or hatchback whose entire oil change job can be done with 50 bucks, do not even mention it to the owner. But some of the sportier models or 4x4s require special oils and additives, the cost of which could in some cases get into the thousands. So it helps a great deal if the seller has taken care of it already. Also, automatic transmission fluid is something to be wary of. Auto ‘boxes are very sensitive to the age and quality of their oil, and they often need a bespoke formula for optimum performance. Again, depending on the make and model you can be looking at a $300-$400 bill or more. While you are at it, check the steering hydraulic and brake fluid as well. These are also expensive stuff to replace.

Next you need to get on your knees and thoroughly examine the condition of the brake pads, brake discs, and, above all, the tires. As mentioned earlier, the sportier the car you are buying, the more expensive these parts can be. So ideally you want them in proper health so that you can get some good mileage out of them before having to worry about their maintenance. You want your discs to be have a smooth surface, your pads to have a good deal of meat on them, and your tires to be tread-full and crack-free. The cost of a new set of tires alone could ruin the whole experience of ownership for you. So make sure you turn the steering wheel and check the inside wall as well, as sometime they start to go bad from there, especially if the car has some alignment issues.

One would be smart to also consider the condition of less expensive parts such as the lights and filters and such. Granted, they don’t usually cost much to replace, but you still have to deal with the trouble of popping to the shop or getting the part and spending your precious free time working on the car as opposed to enjoying it. Some may go as far as making sure the AC has enough gas in it and the tires enough air. You don’t want to be like that because it’s discourteous, and it might make the seller so angry he’d rather burn the car than sell it to you!

Still, should you end up with a car with poor maintenance record, it’s not the end of the world. These days, thanks to the hard-working industrialists in China and Vietnam and what have you, you can buy knock-off parts for pretty much any car you can imagine. Of course, it is not at all recommended to replace an original part with a Chinese knock-off. But speaking from experience, and considering the massive cost of original parts for high-end brands, sometimes it is more logical to go for the cheap copy. Even if the part brakes three times over, the cost of having it replaced with another copy three times still won’t come close to the cost of the original part. But yeah, it is more troublesome. So, you know, pick your battles…

The post Be Wary of Maintenance Costs! appeared first on Motorward.

PostHeaderIcon The Art of the (Car) Deal

A few days ago we learned that the first ‘used’ Bugatti Chiron was sold in the UK, bringing its owner a tidy profit of £1.1 million in just four months. A little while before that a dealer in Dubai listed a LaFerrari Aperta for $7.3 million, literally millions above its factory price. Clearly, there is a lot of money to be made dealing cars, but do you have to a gazillionaire to partake of this? Not necessarily.

Of course, it helps a great deal is you have the kind of money that enables you to play in the upper echelons of the market. Interestingly, the higher the price range, the easier time you will have making a sale. Anyone’s whose willing to blow $7 million on a car is not going to sweat a few hundred grands less or more. Big money also enables you to deal in classic cars market, which is a veritable treasure island on its own. And the rule of thumb, always, is buying low and selling high.

Let’s be honest from the get go, shall we? There is always going to be question marks hanging over the heads of people who make a living selling cars. And yes, a lot of them are very liberal with the truth regarding the subject of the sale and/or its financial details. They either lie to you outright, or conceal certain facts that would prevent you from going ahead with the purchase. But these are the tricks of low-level car dealers. These days thanks to Internet classifieds and all the other means of connection between buyers and sellers you can make honest deals that are both satisfactory for the buyer and fruitful for you as the seller. It goes the other way, too. If you have negotiation skills and are able to knock a few thousands off the price when you buy and then charge them back when you sell, by all means go ahead. This is not being disingenuous. This is being market savvy.

But back to the point about how can one make good money buying and selling cars in all classes and price brackets…

As was said, the trick is buying low and selling high. One technique for this is sniping. There are those people who either frequent shops or browse the ads for those rare occasions where someone is in need of cash and wants to sell their car quickly. You show up with a wad of cash, buy the car, then wait for the right customer to come along and give you a tidy profit. Another way of going about this is buying a car with a few problems. That may sound stupid on the surface, but ordinary people – that is, those who are not into cars – often mistake a slight and easily fixable problem for a major health issue and tend to get rid of the vehicle altogether. A witty car guy with some mechanical knowledge can work wonders with such cases. Because of the problems you will be able to practically steal the car, and if you can get it fixed or improved at a reasonable cost, then there will be a healthy profit in that deal for you. The same applies to tuning and improving a healthy car, but speaking from experience, selling modified cars can prove difficult because it’s a very subjective thing and what you find col others may think of abhorrent.

But the best and most fascinating way of dealing cars is what we talked about at the beginning of this story: dealing in special and limited edition cars. Yes, you need big bucks to play in this league, but the rewards are also enormous. It’s also a lot more fun dealing with the kind of cars, and customers, who frequent this market, which, by the way, is largely immune to the economic fluctuations. Take that Bugatti from earlier. The original owner bought that car from company for £2.5 million, drove it around for four month and enjoyed it, and then sold it £3.6 million. Granted, this is an extreme case. But even with less glamorous cars, as long as they are special or rare, you can do the same thing. Just think about it… driving nice cars everyday and making bank on each one… now that’s to me is a dream job!

The post The Art of the (Car) Deal appeared first on Motorward.

PostHeaderIcon On the Future of Electric Cars – Far From a Sure Thing?

The way car makers all over the world are scrambling these days to step up their electric game, you would think gas engines are on their last legs and customers are shunning them like a disease. But people who are actually crunching the numbers and looking at the whole phenomenon in a scientific way beg to differ. They say plug-in electric cars might not be the future of transportation like we are led to believe. 

There are a number of factors affecting the long-term situation with electric cars, and unlike the traditional market elements, the adoption by customers is not the most important one. The biggest hurdle against electric cars going truly mainstream, at the moment at least, is technology. It is not exactly a secret that the current battery technology sucks. The best of them are out of juice after 100 miles or so, and they take long, arduous hours to charge up. So save a groundbreaking technological breakthrough, the outlook is pretty bleak for PEVs in terms of convenience. It kind of goes against the whole promise of a personal car which is freedom of movement.

Another important factor is government policies. This has to do with the incentives governments are willing to give EV customers in order to expand their use. So they offer rebates at the time of purchase, tax exemptions, toll waivers, free parking, and exemptions from ferry fees. Or they allow electric cars to have the advantage of using high-occupancy vehicle or bus lanes. Now these could work, but the problem with policies is that they change with the administrations. In fact, several countries have started to remove or phase out existing policies that encourage the purchase of PEVs, because the slow rate of progress in technology and enormous costs have shaken their faith in them. And as the incentives thin out, down goes the sales of PEVs.

As for the role of customer demand for plug-in electric cars, while ephemeral trends may cause a temporary surge in the sales of EVs, the trajectory at the moment is not an upward one. This has to do with the convenience issues of EVs, purchase prices and operational costs between plug-in and gasoline-fueled vehicles. In essence, when you strip away the surface glitz of running an electric vehicle, you often find you have to pay a lot more so that you can get a lot less. Even the most environmentally conscious person has a limit for how much trouble he or she is willing to go through, how much money they are willing to part with, so that they might reduce their carbon footprint by a tiny bit. Of course, the situation can get better as technology improves and cost come down. But as already said, this train is not moving fast enough.

 To reach price parity with gasoline-fueled vehicles, battery packs for plug-in electric vehicles will likely need to decrease to about $100/kilowatt hour (kWh). However, the cost of the battery pack for most manufactures is still more than $200/kWh. Further reductions in cost will need to be realized to fully achieve vehicle price parity with gasoline vehicles.

The question of infrastructure is one that is often overlooked, but it is one that could render the other issues moot. For the electric car to become a global phenomenon it needs, first and foremost, universal access to electricity. That in itself is a huge problem, seeing as huge chunks of the population in countries like India do not have that. But even in more-developed countries, access to charging stations still places limits on PEV adoption. Now, one would argue that governments should invest in expansion of charging stations and other solutions such as battery-swapping stations where you can drop your empty pack and get a fully charged one. But one also wonders if this money and effort would not be better spent on the development of hydrogen infrastructure for fuel-cell vehicle which, thanks to their already mature technology, have none of the practical issues of the plug-in EVs.

In spite of all that is wrong with the EV phenomenon on the whole, it is not likely that the industry or the administrative bodies would give up on it for the simple reason that there doesn’t seem to a viable alternative. Granted, fuel-cell seems like a good idea. But it will always be a toss-up between the two technologies given the amount of work needed to make them work in the real world.

Charts and figures by Melissa Lynes – U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)

The post On the Future of Electric Cars – Far From a Sure Thing? appeared first on Motorward.

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