[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]
Liberty Mutual Insurance’s Solaria Labs unveils new developer portal for future products and apps; from safest routing to damage assessment
January 04, 2017
Solaria Labs, an innovation incubator established in 2015 by Liberty Mutual Insurance, is introducing an open API developer portal that combines public data with proprietary insurance knowledge, helping to inform future products and apps for customers. This technology will be able to help consumers do everything from finding the safest driving route—e.g., one on which you are less likely to have an accident—to assessing auto damage from a fender bender with a smartphone camera.
The Solaria Labs developer portal will aggregate public data on auto theft, parking citations as well as crashes using proprietary insurance knowledge. After signing up, developers and data scientists can analyze the aggregated data to identify, for example, the safest driving routes and places to park in major US cities. Providing this comprehensive collection of data will help fuel the development of future apps to improve safety for both drivers and passengers.
Study finds hands-free just as distracting as handheld mobile phone use behind the wheel
December 28, 2016
Talking hands-free on a mobile phone while driving is just as distracting as a conversation using a hand-held phone, according to a recent study by researchers at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Australia.
Dr. Shimul (Md Mazharul) Haque, from QUT’s School of Civil Engineering and Built Environment and Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety – Queensland ( ), presented the findings at a Driving Distraction Seminar held at QUT. The study is published in Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies.
Ford 2017 trends report: disruption the status quo, “never more difficult” to find objective information
December 25, 2016
For the past five years, Ford has issued an annual trend report exploring societal shifts expected to influence consumers and brands (e.g., earlier post). The reports have focused on microtrends in consumer behavior; the fifth anniversary edition report—Looking Further with Ford: 2017 Trends—revisits three that surfaced in earlier reports, and highlights seven that are emerging.
Sheryl Connelly, Ford global trend and futuring manager, says there is no escaping the fact that disruption is now the status quo. At a time in which truthfulness tends to be subjective, two-thirds of adults say it never has been harder to find objective, fact-based information, while just 55% say what they put on social media is what they really think. An abundance of choice matched with uncertainty in the marketplace is bringing about a reluctance to commit—giving rise to a “sampling society” that prioritizes trying over buying .
US vehicle miles travelled up 3% in first 9 months of 2016 to 2.4 trillion miles
December 05, 2016
US driving topped 2.4 trillion miles in the first nine months of 2016, an increase of 3.0% compared to the same period last year, lengthening a series of consecutive monthly increases that started in April 2014, according to preliminary new data released by the US Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
The new data, published in FHWA’s latest “Traffic Volume Trends” report—a monthly estimate of US road travel—show that more than 265.5 billion miles were driven in September 2016 alone—a 2.4% increase over the previous September and a 0.4% increase compared with August 2016.
Geographers provide new insight into commuter megaregions of the US
December 01, 2016
Geographers from Dartmouth College and the University of Sheffield have provided new insight into the economic geography of commuter megaregions in the US by using an empirical approach that combines visual interpretation with statistical analysis. The findings appear in an open-access paper in PLOS One and shed light on an old geographic problem: how to divide space into coherent unit areas.
These emerging megaregions reflect the economic links woven by millions of commuters traveling to and from work each day. They map out complex networks in which economic systems, natural resources and infrastructure are linked. Understanding the way functional geographic connections cross over the existing borderlines of states and regions is key for developing institutional forms that match the patterns of the contemporary world.
Survey: Norwegian PHEVs drive electrically 55% of time, BEVs driven more in total and in everyday traffic
August 16, 2016
Norway leads the European market for plug-in vehicles, with more than 105,000 units registered through May 2016. A recent survey of 8,000 vehicle owners in Norway by Norway’s Institute of Transport Economics found that plug-in hybrids there drive electrically with power from the grid 55% of the time (and 63% on work trips), while battery electric vehicles are driven more in total and in everyday traffic.
The survey also found that buyers of battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles have different transport needs but both are motivated by economy of use and environment; battery electric vehicle owners are also motivated by a free toll road incentive. Battery electric vehicle owners are younger, have more children, a longer distance to drive work and own more vehicles than other vehicle owners.
Survey: Fuel efficiency top criterion for US buyers regardless of size of vehicle; good news for start-stop
August 03, 2016
American consumers are strongly influenced by fuel efficiency and the price of gas when purchasing a vehicle, according to a new survey conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation on behalf of Johnson Controls. Of the 1,006 people surveyed, fuel efficiency (57%) is top of mind for consumers when they go to buy any size automobile, followed closely by cost (55%) and safety (54%).
That preference is consistent with a similar survey conducted five years ago, despite falling gas prices, which are down more than 37% from the national average in 2011. The new survey also found consumers are sensitive to the price of fuel when considering a new vehicle, with 64% saying it directly impacts their purchase. This is up 14% from 2011.
Researchers urge Chinese government to encourage bikes, buses and rail over cars and commercial vehicles due to emissions and health concerns
August 01, 2016
Based on the results of their analysis of the potential air quality and health impacts of travel demand in China under business-as-usual and alternative transport scenarios, a team of researchers in China is urging policymakers to encourage the replacement of private cars for short trips with bicycles or public buses and the replacement of commercial vehicles with rail transport.
In their paper, published in the journal Energy Policy, Ling-Yun HE and Lu-Yi QIU, observe that regulatory policies imposed on vehicle usage as well as on car ownership can not solve the growing emissions problem.
TÜM study finds reduction in fuel consumption from eco-driving training, even with incentives, to be fleeting
A study of the persistence of effects of eco-driving training by a team from Technische Universität München has found that, while there is an immediate reduction of the average fuel consumption following eco-driving training along with the provision of an incentive, there is an attenuation of this effect after six months.
Further, they also found no impact on fuel consumption from purely theoretical eco-driving training—i.e., without incentives—either short-term or long-term. A paper describing their study is published in the journal Energy Policy.
Berkeley TSRC study quantifies VMT and GHG benefits of car2go car-sharing in North America
July 25, 2016
car2go NA is currently the largest flexible one-way carsharing service in North America. Now, a study conducted by the University of California Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC) concludes that car2go’s carsharing model can complement existing mass transit options; reduces the overall number of vehicles on the road; and ultimately improves mobility in densely-populated urban areas.
Among the study’s conclusions were that, on balance, car2go changes VMT (vehicle miles travelled) by -6% to -16% per car2go household; GHG emissions change by -4% to -18% per car2go household. Overall, the results of this study suggest that car2go one-way carsharing is substantively impacting travel behavior, miles driven, GHG emissions, and the number of vehicles on urban roads within operating regions.
UMTRI: US driver preference for automation about the same as last year; most prefer retaining control
May 24, 2016
Despite greater coverage of driverless technology advancements the past couple of years, most Americans still prefer to drive themselves—at least partially, according to a new report by Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak of the U-M Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI). The new report is a follow-on to their study last year of motorists’ preferences for vehicle automation, including their overall concern about riding in self-driving cars.
Sivak and Schoettle found that 45.8% prefer to retain full control while driving, while 38.7% prefer a partially self-driving vehicle with occasional control by the driver. Just under 16% (15.5%) would rather ride in a completely self-driving vehicle.
Edmunds.com: EV and hybrid loyalty falls to all-time low
April 21, 2016
Only 27.5% of all hybrid and electric vehicle trade-ins in the US in 2016 have been applied to the purchase of another hybrid or EV, according to a new analysis from car shopping destination Edmunds.com. The rate is a sharp drop from the 38.5% of hybrid and EV trade-ins in 2015, and the findings reinforce a trend first identified last year by Edmunds that owners of alt-fuel vehicles are returning to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles in greater numbers than ever before.
Edmunds’ analysis found that a hybrid or electric trade-in is more likely to go toward the purchase of a SUV (33.8%) than another hybrid or EV. The trend is even more apparent when looking only at EV trade-ins—25.7% of EV trade-ins went toward the purchase of a SUV, compared to just 4.8% that went toward another EV.
Audi summarizes electric driving utilization from 4-year Electric Mobility Showcase; 1.4M km for A1 e-tron and A3 Sportback e-tron
April 14, 2016
Audi gained a wealth of experience from the 1.4 million kilometers (869,919.7 mi) driven as part of the four-year Electric Mobility Showcase in Germany. (Earlier post.) Ahead of the closing conference in Leipzig today, Audi revealed some of the electric driving results for its two models involved: the A1 e-tron prototype and the production A3 Sportback e-tron.
The Electric Mobility Showcase program is a joint initiative of the German government and the automotive industry. Four ministries lent their support to 90 individual measures in four regions of Germany. Audi was one of the first vehicle manufacturers to sign up to the program; when Audi entered in 2012, it was involved in six projects for which it provided a fleet of 80 Audi A1 e-tron prototypes.
NREL releases study on public sentiments on PEVs
April 12, 2016
NREL has released a new report presenting the findings of a study on the public’s sentiments regarding plug-in vehicles (PEVs), with a focus on vehicle purchasing behaviors, awareness, and barriers to acceptance.
Conducted in February 2015, the study—“Consumer Views on Plug-in Electric Vehicles-National Benchmark Report”—covered a 1,015-household sample designed to be representative of the US population. NREL plans to repeat the study annually to track changing consumer perceptions. High level findings from the study included:
J.D. Power study finds ACEN technology woes affecting vehicle reliability for consumers
February 26, 2016
Problems with technology continue to affect vehicle reliability for consumers, according to the J.D. Power 2016 US Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS). The number of problems with infotainment, navigation and in-vehicle communication systems—collectively known as audio, communication, entertainment and navigation or ACEN—has increased and now accounts for 20% of all customer-reported problems in the study.
ACEN is now the most problematic area on most vehicles and is the cause of the industry’s 3% year-over-year decline in vehicle dependability. Key findings of the study included:
UK study finds fifth of car fuel-efficiency savings eroded by increased driving; long-term rebound effect
February 10, 2016
Around a fifth of the energy-saving benefits of fuel-efficient cars are eroded because people end up driving them more, according to a study into British motoring habits over the last 40 years.
Using data from 1970 to 2011, energy experts at the University of Sussex found a long-term rebound effect among British car-drivers of around 20%. Published in an open access paper in the February issue of the journal Energy Economics, this is the first estimation of this rebound effect—a term used to describe the increased consumption of cheaper energy services—for car travel in Great Britain.
Study of eco-driving in hybrids finds need for systems that facilitate energy-efficient behaviors
January 30, 2016
A study of eco-driving behavior in hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) by a team from Technische Universität Chemnitz (Germany) and the University of Southampton (UK) has found that simply providing drivers with a technology that has the potential for high energy savings—i.e., a hybrid—is not sufficient to result in high energy savings; systems must be developed in a way that facilitates energy efficient behaviors.
Put another way, they found that eco-driving motivation does not guarantee ecodriving success. Their study showed that even among drivers who were highly motivated for eco-driving, the individual differences in applied ecodriving strategies were still substantial. Building on the results, the team presented a number of suggestions for the design of systems that facilitate ecodriving. A paper on their study is published in the journal Applied Ergonomics.
City of LA, Xerox introduce multi-modal transportation app for commuters
January 27, 2016
The City of Los Angeles is introducing the Go LA app, powered by Xerox, a solution that integrates all the available methods of getting around the second largest metro area in the United States. Unlike other efforts to improve the daily commute, the Go LA app captures the full range of transportation options and computes the shortest, cheapest, and most sustainable way to get to your destination.
The app aggregates and calculates the time, cost, carbon footprint, and health benefits from walking, biking, driving your own car, parking, taking public transit, as well as the emerging private transportation options—such as Lyft, Zipcar, FlitWays and Uber—giving users a variety of ways to reach their destination. Discovering user needs for combining public and private transportation options, Xerox researchers designed and delivered this smart city solution.
IBM study finds consumers very interested in alternative ownership models for cars, self-enabling vehicles
January 12, 2016
Consumers expect to use cars differently—showing particular interest in self-enabling vehicles—though they don’t necessarily want to own one in the traditional sense, according to the results of IBM’s automotive consumer study, presented at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. This presents opportunities for automakers to apply analytics and cognitive capabilities to develop new vehicle options.
“A New Relationship – People and Cars,” developed by the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV), reports that consumers also show a high level of interest in self-enabling vehicles, or cars that can learn, heal, drive and socialize. These capabilities include autonomous, self-driving cars, vehicles that can be fixed without human intervention and the implementation of cognitive computing to learn and assimilate to the driver’s behaviors, the vehicle itself and the surrounding environment.