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In-Vehicle Infotainment Systems Especially Distracting to Older Drivers

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 25, 2019) – New in-vehicle infotainment technology has the potential to increase comfort and extend mobility for older drivers, but first it has to stop distracting them. On average, older drivers (ages 55-75) removed their eyes and attention from the road for more than eight seconds longer than younger drivers (ages 21-36) when performing simple tasks like programming navigation or tuning the radio using in-vehicle infotainment technology, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles a driver’s risk of a crash.

“Voice-command functions found in new in-vehicle technology are intended to help drivers by keeping their eyes and attention on the road,” said Dr. David Yang, Executive Director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Unfortunately, the complexity and poor design of some of these systems could cause more harm for older drivers, in particular, instead of helping them.”

By 2030, more than one in five drivers on the road will be over the age of 65. With seniors becoming the fastest growing demographic in the U.S., finding ways to design technology to improve their comfort and safety is critical and may hold the key to enhancing the safe use of this technology for all drivers.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety partnered with researchers from the University of Utah to test the visual and cognitive demand created by the infotainment systems in six 2018 vehicles. Study participants in two age groups (21-36 and 55-75) were required to use voice commands, touch screens and other interactive technologies to make a call, send a text message, tune the radio, or program navigation, all while driving.

Researchers found that the technology created potentially unsafe distractions for all drivers, though this safety risk is more pronounced for older adults, who took longer (4.7-8.6 seconds) to complete tasks, experienced slower response times, and increased visual distractions.

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Porsche Ranks Highest Overall in Study; Ram is Highest-Ranked Mass Market Brand; Ford Receives Most Segment-Level Awards

COSTA MESA, Calif., July 24, 2019 -- Improvements in infotainment systems and increased availability of advanced driver assistance systems are making customers increasingly satisfied with their new vehicles, according to the J.D. Power 2019 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study,SM released today.

The industry average satisfaction index score increases to 823 (on a 1,000-point scale) from 820 in 2018, with 22 of the 32 brands included in the study improving from last year.

"Every automaker is producing vehicles that consumers like, but some of them are doing it at a higher level than others," said Dave Sargent, Vice President of Global Automotive at J.D. Power. "Satisfaction with new technology is improving, but infotainment remains an area where automakers can get better. Owners have higher satisfaction if their vehicle is equipped with safety features such as blind spot monitor, collision avoidance and lane departure warning. This should serve as a positive sign for manufacturers, as these features are some of the early building blocks for fully automated vehicles."

Following are key findings of the 2019 study:

Scores in all 10 categories improve in 2019: The study examines 10 vehicle categories, all of which have improved in appeal from 2018. Categories showing the most improvement are infotainment (+10 points) and visibility and safety (+6).

Gap between luxury and mass market brands narrows: The average APEAL score for luxury brands is 853 points, compared with 818 for mass market brands. This gap of 35 points is the narrowest in the study's history and is down from 50 points just three years ago.

Satisfaction gap between cars and SUVs shrinking: The slowdown in industry improvement for 2019 vs. 2018 is primarily caused by a lack of overall improvement in cars, whereas SUVs improve by 7 points. Cars continue to outperform SUVs for fuel economy and engine/transmission, largely because cars are lighter than SUVs. However,

SUVs gain the advantage in most other areas, including driving dynamics; storage and space; visibility and safety; and seats. "Fuel economy will always be an important consideration for shoppers, but they are increasingly wowed by the capability of modern SUVs," Sargent said.

Highest-Ranked Brands

In general, larger and more expensive vehicles achieve higher APEAL scores than smaller and less expensive vehicles. A brand's ranking, therefore, is a function of the types of vehicles the manufacturer produces and how well it executes on those vehicles.

Porsche Ranks Highest Overall in J.D. Power APEAL Study

New Cayenne also wins top spot in its segment

ATLANTA, July 24, 2019 -- U.S. customers have rated Porsche highest among all automotive brands in the latest annual J.D. Power 'APEAL' (Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout) Study. In addition, the Porsche Cayenne took the top position in the 'Midsize Premium SUV' segment, the third straight year for the model line and the first entry for the new, third generation Cayenne.

The 2019 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study measures owners' emotional attachment and level of excitement with their new vehicle across 77 attributes, ranging from the sense of comfort and luxury they feel when climbing into the driver's seat to the power they feel when they step on the gas. These attributes combine into an overall APEAL index score measured on a 1,000-point scale. The study, now in its 24th year, is based on responses gathered from February 2019 through May 2019 from nearly 68,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2019 model-year vehicles who were surveyed after 90 days of ownership.

Porsche earned 891 points on the 1,000-point scale, improving 8 points over last year. This compared to the premium brand average of 853 and overall industry average of 823.


Evija: Lotus Unveils World's Most Powerful Production Car

HETHEL, England, July 17, 2019 -- Resurgent British sports car maker Lotus has unveiled the Evija, the world's first all-electric British hypercar, at an exclusive event in London.

A technical tour de force, the Evija is illustrative of the innovative thinking and ingenuity that has always been part of the Lotus DNA.

With a target output of 2000 PS, it is the world's most powerful series production road car. It has been designed and engineered in the UK, and will be produced at Hethel, UK, the home of Lotus since 1966. A maximum of 130 will be built.

Full technical details can be found on the Lotus media website at https://media.lotuscars.com

Hosted at the Royal Horticultural Halls, London, more than 350 VIP guests attended the unveiling. They were made up of international automotive, business, technology and design media, plus a host of UK business leaders, corporate and commercial partners, government officials, Lotus employees, racing drivers and other distinguished friends of the brand.

Also in attendance was a delegation of senior figures from Geely Auto, the world's fastest growing automotive group and majority shareholder of Group Lotus.

Vehicle Escape Tools are a Lifesaver – in the Right Situation

New research finds vehicle escape tools effective in breaking tempered side windows, but not laminated

ORLANDO, Fla. (July 16, 2019) – New research from AAA reveals that most vehicle escape tools, intended to quickly aid passengers trapped in a car following an accident, will break tempered side windows, but none were able to penetrate laminated glass. Motorists may not realize it, but an increasing number of new cars – in fact, 1 in 3 2018 vehicle models – have laminated side windows, a nearly unbreakable glass meant to lessen the chance of occupant ejection during a collision. AAA urges drivers to know what type of side window glass is installed on their vehicle, keep a secure and easily accessible escape tool in their car and have a backup plan in case an escape tool cannot be used or doesn’t work.

In its latest study, AAA examined a selection of vehicle escape tools available to consumers to determine their effectiveness in breaking tempered and laminated vehicle side windows. Of the six tools selected (three spring-loaded and three hammer style), AAA researchers found that only four were able to shatter the tempered glass and none were able to break the laminated glass, which stayed intact even after being cracked. During multiple rounds of testing, it was also discovered that the spring-loaded tools were more effective in breaking tempered windows than the hammer-style.

“To improve safety, more vehicles are being equipped with laminated side windows – but a majority also have at least one window made of tempered glass,” said John Nielsen, managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair for AAA. “Our research found that generally vehicle escape tools can be effective in an emergency, but only if drivers know what type of side windows they have, otherwise they could waste precious seconds trying to break glass that will not shatter.”

Drivers can determine the type of glass installed on their vehicle by first checking for a label located in the bottom corner of the side window, which should clearly indicate whether the glass is tempered or laminated. If this information is not included or there is no label at all, AAA advises contacting the vehicle manufacturer. It is also important to note that some vehicles are outfitted with different glass at varying locations in the car (i.e. tempered glass on rear side windows versus laminated on front side windows).

The increased use of laminated glass is in response to federal safety standards aimed at reducing occupant ejections in high speed collisions. In 2017, there were an estimated 21,400 people who were partially or fully ejected during a crash, resulting in 11,200 injuries and 5,053 deaths. While these types of crashes are more prevalent, there are instances where vehicles may catch fire or become partially or fully submerged in water, forcing drivers and their passengers to exit the vehicle through a side window. In situations like this, vehicle escape tools can assist ahead of emergency responders arriving.

National Gas Price Average Jumps Eight Cents in Two Weeks

The national gas price average is $2.79, which is an eight-cent increase since the beginning of July. Gas prices have increased amid more expensive crude oil prices, robust demand and decreasing gasoline stocks.

Since last Monday, 18 states have seen their gas price averages increase by at least a nickel. Hurricane Barry, which made landfall in Louisiana this past weekend, seems to have had little impact on the national average.

“Gas prices continue to increase for the majority of motorists east of the Mississippi, while those filling up in the West Coast and Rockies regions are seeing a bit of a reprieve at the pump,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “While the national average is up, only seven states have gas price averages of $3/gallon or more. And notably, compared to the same time last year, the average is still eight cents cheaper.”

Today’s average is four cents more than last week and a dime more expensive compared to a month ago.

Quick Stats

The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets are: Mississippi ($2.40), Alabama ($2.42), Louisiana ($2.43), Arkansas ($2.43), South Carolina ($2.48), Oklahoma ($2.50), Texas ($2.50), Virginia ($2.51), Kansas ($2.52) and Tennessee ($2.53).

The nation’s top 10 largest weekly increases are: Indiana (+15 cents), Illinois (+14 cents), Missouri (+10 cents), Ohio (+10 cents), Oklahoma (+9 cents), Michigan (+8 cents), Kentucky (+8 cents), Nebraska (+7 cents), South Carolina (+7 cents) and Georgia (+7 cents).

Automakers Confront an Uncertain New Vehicle Market in 2019

The strong economy keeps new car sales at historic highs, but analysts question how long this will last in the face of higher interest rates, shifting government policies, and a used vehicle market with more attractive options than ever

SANTA MONICA, Calif., June 26, 2019 -- So far 2019 has been a year of contrasts for automakers as they struggle to find a new normal amid rising interest rates, waning demand, dramatic growth in the used market and uncertain government policies. Edmunds analysts break down these issues and the major factors influencing the new vehicle market this year in the Midyear Update of the Edmunds 2019 Automotive Trends Report.

"Automakers are fighting a war on multiple fronts right now: Old cars are piling up on dealer lots, a glut of affordable off-lease vehicles are luring shoppers into the used market, and even with the Fed anticipated to lower rates in July, higher interest rates are here to stay," said Jeremy Acevedo, Edmunds' manager of industry analysis. "Strong economic indicators such as consumer confidence and low unemployment are keeping sales at historically elevated levels, but automakers have also been relying a little too heavily on fleet sales to keep these numbers up as well, which isn't a sustainable model."

According to Edmunds data, new vehicle sales are down 2.4% year-over-year through May, and Edmunds analysts maintain their forecast that 16.9 million new vehicles will be sold in 2019. In addition to a deeper dive into sales figures, the Midyear Report also reveals:

FCA to Launch New In-vehicle Uconnect Market Commerce Platform

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., June 24, 2019 --

Uconnect Market is a new platform that allows FCA customers to make on-demand reservations and to purchase products and services directly from the vehicle touchscreen

Customers interact directly with a variety of merchants, including Shell, Domino's, ParkWhiz and Yelp Reservations

Uconnect Market platform will deploy in the second half of 2019

New platform, developed in partnership with Xevo, follows recent announcement of new connected system for FCA vehicles


FCA continues to advance its in-vehicle technology, announcing today the launch of Uconnect Market, a new in-vehicle commerce platform that gives customers the opportunity to conveniently order food, find the nearest gas station, save money on fuel purchases and make dinner reservations, all from the comfort of their vehicles.

With the new platform, FCA owners will be able to skip lines and save time by ordering (and paying for) food and beverages, reserve a table on the way to their favorite restaurant or locate and securely authorize pump-and-pay fuel at participating locations. Drivers can also locate and pay for nearby parking and schedule service appointments at FCA US dealerships, all while in the vehicle without having to reach for a physical credit card.

"Our customers live busy lives, and our goal with the Uconnect platform is to provide an advanced portfolio of services to make their daily drive more convenient, productive and enjoyable," said Alan D'Agostini, Global Head of Connected Services, FCA. "This is why we are launching Uconnect Market, as we continue to ramp-up our connectivity efforts around the world with the goal of having all new FCA vehicles connected by 2022."

The lineup of brands participating in the Uconnect Market platform at launch includes Shell, Domino's, Park Whiz and Yelp Reservations.

Uconnect Market includes the following services:

Going Against Usual Trends, Demand Drives Gas Prices Down Even Lower

U.S. gasoline demand hit its highest level at 9.93 million b/d, for the week ending June 14. It is the highest level ever recorded since the Energy Information Administration (EIA) began publishing data in 1991. Counterintuitively, as motorists drive demand to new heights, pump prices pushed even cheaper across the country on the week. This is due to the recent trend in cheaper crude pricing and because crude comprises roughly 60% of the costs people pay at the pump, drivers are seeing summer savings. When compared to this time last year, domestic crude prices are cheaper by approximately $12 per barrel. Today’s national average is $2.66, which is two cents less than last week and 18 cents less than a month and year ago.

“Filling-up at the pump this summer could mean savings as much as a quarter a gallon,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “Cheaper prices could entice motorists to travel more and even take some last minute road trips.”

At the end of last week, a massive fire took Philadelphia Energy Solution’s (PES) Philadelphia, the largest on the East Coast, offline, causing concern of what this could do to gas prices this summer. The incident will likely lead to reduced gasoline production at the refinery. However, gasoline from Canada, neighboring refineries, and the Colonial Pipeline are likely solutions to help backfill supply, meet demand and relieve any tightness in gasoline supplies as a result of reduced gasoline production at PES’ refinery and keep gas prices cheap throughout summer.

Quick Stats

The nation’s top 10 largest monthly decreases are: Indiana (-30 cents), California (-26 cents), South Carolina (-24 cents), Michigan (-23 cents), Oklahoma (-21 cents), Arizona (-21 cents), Mississippi (-21 cents), Maryland(-21 cents), Nebraska (-21 cents) and Delaware (-20 cents).

The nation’s top 10 most expensive markets are: Mississippi ($2.24), South Carolina ($2.24), Alabama ($2.26), Louisiana ($2.26), Arkansas ($2.31), Oklahoma ($2.34), Tennessee ($2.35), Texas ($2.35), Missouri ($2.37) and Virginia ($2.40).

Porsche Financial Services Introduces Porsche Auto Insurance

ATLANTA, June 20, 2019 - A new breed of insurance is available to Porsche drivers. Porsche Auto Insurance delivers tailored insurance rates matched with exceptional customer service – all without compromising privacy.

The innovative solution meets the unique needs of Porsche drivers by limiting costs to actual miles driven, plus a low base rate. In addition to tailored rates, customers can expect an added layer of privacy: simply take a photo of your odometer to submit your mileage instead of using invasive tracking devices or always-on smartphone apps.

Porsche Auto Insurance customers will also receive exceptional service and have access to an exclusive collection of benefits that complement their Porsche vehicle. Pay-per-mile rates, non-invasive data collection, Porsche Genuine Parts, claims concierge, and agreed value coverage are just a few benefits you've always wanted and can now obtain.

Porsche Auto Insurance is offered in partnership between Porsche Financial Services, Inc. (PFS) and Mile Auto, Inc. (Mile Auto).

"Innovation has been at the core of Porsche's success story for the last 70 years," said Ross Dupper, President and CEO of Porsche Financial Services, the dedicated provider of leasing and financing products for Porsche in the United States. "The launch of Porsche Auto Insurance marks another innovation adding to the success of the next 70 years."

"Porsche customers deserve an insurance product that fits their lifestyle and their Porsche. Mile Auto is excited to partner with PFS in delivering a product worthy of the Porsche Crest," said Fred Blumer, CEO of Mile Auto, the pay-per-mile insurance provider of Porsche Auto Insurance.

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