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Six Finalists in the Running for AOL Autos’ Technology of the Year Award

Six Finalists in the Running for AOL Autos’ Technology of the Year Award

The slate of six finalists for AOL Autos’ Technology of the Year Award have been named, each embodying the latest and greatest developments in automotive fuel economy, connectivity, telematics and active safety. Readers will now be charged with casting votes that will help determine which entrant takes the top honor.

Following a careful review of over 40 entries submitted by industry professionals, editorial staffers and readers alike, the judging panel has declared the finalists to be (in no particular order):

From midnight on November 19 onward, readers will be given the chance to vote for one of the six innovative technologies to take the top prize. The announcement and presentation of the honor to the victor will occur in Las Vegas at January’s 2014 Consumer Electronics Show.

Though it is certainly true that most readers of AOL Autos will not have had a personal opportunity to test the technologies in the running for the honor, they do have access to reviews written by site staffers, all of which are accompanied by videos explaining the finer points of each innovation. These summaries also include specific articulation of the reasons each finalist was selected by the judging panel. Once the readers’ choice is determined after voting closes, that selection will have the equal weight to the vote of one of the judges on the 14-judge panel.

AOL Autos editor David Kiley believes that the readership will have sufficient information to fairly judge the merits of each new technology offering, thanks to the detail provided in the site’s presentations. Those assessments, combined with the hands-on experience AOL Autos staffers enjoyed with each finalist, make for a thorough, accurate judging process.

In its inaugural technology contest last year, AOL Autos tapped the updated UConnect system from Chrysler as the top technological innovation, surging ahead of laudable submissions from Cadillac, Honda, Nissan and Ford.

The fuel economy category was a new addition to this year’s contest, largely because it is an arena that is seeing a major influx of technological development within the auto industry. Kiley asserted that since fuel economy innovations are so thoroughly intertwined with electronics, the decision to include this sector in an event affiliated with the Consumer Electronics Show is entirely fitting.

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Penske Automotive Uses Apple Concept for Product Specialist Program

Penske Automotive Uses Apple Concept for Product Specialist Program

Penske Automotive launched a product specialist program in one of its stores last month to try to increase sales and improve customer satisfaction. The name or location of the store is not being revealed. The concept that the company is using closely emulates the “genius” product specialists that Apple uses at its retail stores.

Tony Pordon, the executive vice president of investor relations and corporate development, says that the idea to initiate such a scheme came from the general manager of the test store. She is trying to creatively drive more people to her location and to improve customer satisfaction ratings at the dealership. Pordon would only say that a high-volume foreign brand is sold at the store.

Penske Automotive is not the first company to test out product specialists in its stores. BMW also took inspiration from Apple for its BMW Genius Everywhere program, which was launched in the United Kingdom and has spread throughout Europe. The vehicle manufacturer requires its dealerships to hire young, tech-savvy people to answer inquiries about its vehicles. BMW is expected to bring this program to the United States early next year.

Penske Automotive supports BMW Genius Everywhere, as well as sells the manufacturer’s vehicles, but Pordon says that its product specialist initiative is separate. The company owns 140 dealerships, but has only hired two product specialists. Pordon says that energetic, tech-savvy people who are willing to embrace changes in technology are ideal candidates for future product specialists. The company wants people who understand product details and have robust communication skills.

Pordon explained that Penske Automotive product specialists will greet customers, go on test drives and do vehicle walk-arounds before a salesperson begins to negotiate a price with the customers. The goal is to meet the high expectations of customers and provide a better, faster experience. Emulating the tech-savviness that other businesses have is one way to accomplish this goal, and that is why this program has been initiated.

He also noted that this is a lower-cost way to boost store sales, despite the upfront cost of hiring product specialists, because it will lead to more gross and increase profits. The management team will examine the initiative and make adjustments as necessary, such as having the product specialists do the sales side of the business as well. If the program works, Penske Automotive will consider launching it at other dealerships.

 

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General

Getting Your Car Ready for winter

Getting Your Car Ready for winter

With frigid winter weather on the way for a large portion of the country, it pays to make sure your car is ready. The rigors of ice and snow can really take a toll on your vehicle. Here are some maintenance issues to handle before the first flakes fall.

A Tire Inspection

Your tires are what keeps you on the road in bad conditions, so you will want to check their condition and pressure before cold weather comes. You can insert a penny into the tread and see how much remains—make sure it goes in as deep as Lincoln’s head. The pressure can be checked at any gas station with an air machine, and you can add air at the same time, if needed. Should you live in an area that experiences a lot of snow, you may also want to consider getting a set of snow tires for more traction.

Change the Oil

Colder weather causes oil to get thick, so you will need to change out the summer-weight oil for something thinner. Your operator’s manual can advise you as to the proper type and weight to use in colder weather.

Wax the Entire Vehicle

Salt and other compounds used to treat the roads are corrosive, and sand and ash used for traction can create scratches in the paint. By carefully waxing the entire vehicle, you are applying a barrier that will seal and protect the paint and any exposed metal. This will help avoid scratches and rust.

Check or Change Your Antifreeze

Your antifreeze does exactly that in cold weather, but sometimes people top off the reservoir with water in the summer. The mix is supposed to be an even 50/50 split between antifreeze and water. Any additional water in the system can lead to freezing, which will damage your engine and rack up an enormous repair bill.

Check All Belts and Hoses

The rubber used in belts and hoses can become brittle in cold weather, so make sure they are in good condition. Also check the clamps for any sign of corrosion.

Taking the time to prepare your vehicle for winter will make for a safer driving experience and a worry-free holiday season. As always, consult your mechanic if anything doesn’t look right on your car or it isn’t operating properly.

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GeneralIndustry News

Apple iTunes Radio Chooses Nissan as Exclusive Automotive Launch Partner

Apple iTunes Radio Chooses Nissan as Exclusive Automotive Launch Partner

Apple, Inc. recently launched the iOS7, which is an enhanced version of the original iPhone operating system and can now interface not only with iPhones, iPads and iPods, but the new Apple iTunes Radio as well. The iTunes Radio functions in the same manner as Spotify and Pandora; it is a free radio that lets users choose their own stations and create personal playlists of their favorite genres and songs. Additionally, iTunes Radio listeners have the ability to purchase any song they listen to since the songs are linked to the iTunes store.

To help launch iTunes Radio, Apple chose Nissan as its first automobile launch partner. Just as the free versions of other Internet radio stations contain advertisements, iTunes Radio will also have advertised content and much of it will be Nissan-specific. New models will be featured and Nissan will use iAd, a marketing ploy that allows advertisements to be directly inserted into various apps. The exclusive partnership also means that users will be privy to unique video as well as audio content on all of their Apple devices: the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV and Mac.

Nissan, now partnered with Renault, is the sixth largest automobile manufacturer in the world. Its original vehicles were called Datsuns, which enjoyed huge popularity, particularly their line of trucks. Today they have a wide variety of car models, including a luxury model line called Infiniti and an electric model called LEAF. The new exclusive partnership with Apple’s iTunes Radio is bound to exponentially raise awareness for the Nissan brand even without the exclusive and targeted Nissan ads on the radio stations. Apple, Inc., after all, is one of the most recognized brand names in the world with millions of customers who already have intense brand loyalty to all things Apple.

The new iOS7 technology that fuels the iPhone Radio will initially be available in the 2014 Nissan Rogue compact SUV, the all-new 2014 Nissan Versa Note and the hot-selling Nissan LEAF electric vehicle. These are currently the only vehicles in the world that will play iTunes Radio in the car.

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General

5 Best Cars for Tall Drivers

5 Best Cars for Tall Drivers

Motorists come in all shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, tall drivers often have a difficult time finding a car that has enough room for their long legs or lengthy torsos. Here are the five best cars for tall drivers.

2013 Cadillac XTS
For decades, Cadillac has treated tall drivers to a tremendous amount of interior room. The 2013 Cadillac XTS continues the tradition by delivering a premium luxury car that suits the dimensions of a tall driver. With almost 46 inches of legroom available, the XTS has one of the most spacious driver’s seats in its class. Prospective buyers will love its responsive V6 engine and slew of high-tech amenities.

2013 Kia Optima
The 2013 Kia Optima has all of the attributes that tall drivers seek. Not only does the sleek sedan provide a comfortable seating position, but it also has one of the best values in the segment. For tall drivers that are looking for a quick sports sedan, the available SX model with its turbocharged engine and sports-tuned suspension will fulfill those desires.

2013 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
This luxurious German sedan is sculpted just right for a tall driver. Its powerful V8 engine has enough power to induce a sly smile during hard acceleration. If you are a tall driver that is in the market for a well-crafted driving machine, then the S-Class may be just what you need. The available amenities are also second to none on the car market.

2013 Hyundai Sonata
Sharing the same platform as the Kia Optima, the Hyundai Sonata also has plenty of front-seat space. The Sonata packs quite a punch under the hood, especially when equipped with the available turbocharged engine. The best part is that all of the trims still get over 30 mpg during highway driving. Tall drivers will be able to maneuver behind the wheel of the Sonata with no issues.

2013 Hyundai Azera
The Hyundai Azera offers some of the best luxury features in its class. It is surely an affordable alternative to some of more expensive nameplates on the market. Its smooth ride and superb warranty make the Azera such an intriguing choice. Tall drivers that are looking for a bargain luxury sedan should not hesitate to put the Azera on their radar.

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AJ Allmendinger dominates Nationwide race at Mid-Ohio, Sam Hornish resumes championship points lead

AJ

The NASCAR Nationwide Series made its first appearance at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the first time in the history this past weekend to hold the Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200. The new track quickly proved to be one of the most difficult racetracks on the Nationwide Series this season. While all of the series regulars and road course specialists competed at the Mid-Ohio track last Saturday, the race had an extremely surprising winner.

AJ Allmendinger spent almost the entire race at the lead, and he would have been able to coast to victory if it was not for a caution with only two laps remaining in the race. The seventh and final caution of the 92-lap race forced all of the contestants to bunch together before they ran the final two laps of the race. The caution may have put the final result of the race in doubt if Allmendinger did not have such a dominant car all day. As soon as the flag waved for the final two laps, Allemdinger was able to jump ahead of the pack to take the checkered flag with little pressure from Michael McDowell and Sam Hornish Jr. behind him. McDowell was second and Sam Hornish Jr. assumed the series points lead after finishing third. Max Papis and Brian Vickers rounded out the top five.

The race last Saturday at Mid-Ohio was only Allemdinger’s second race on the Nationwide Series due to the suspension. He was also able to win his previous race at the Road American race track in Wisconsin. If AJ Allmendinger is able to keep up the dominant performances in his next few races, then he may be able to earn back the full-time job that he lost due to the suspension.

 

[Source: usatoday.com]

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General

The Dangers of Drowsy Driving

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Everyday, there are motorists on the roads operating on too little sleep. When a driver is drowsy, they put themselves and all other drivers in danger. Falling asleep at the wheel causes a car to drift into other lanes, onto shoulders or even into buildings. Besides falling asleep, drowsy drivers pose many other risks. These drivers are not as aware of what is going on around them, have a slower reaction time than normal, and tend to be more aggressive towards other drivers.

When a driver is unaware of their surroundings, their guard is down and they cannot prevent an accident as readily. Alert drivers are trained to keep an eye out in all directions for potential dangers. A sleepy driver is not as likely to notice these dangers and therefore may not be able to avoid them before an accident happens.

Having a quick reaction time is a key component to safe driving. When a driver is drowsy, this reaction time is much slower than usual. This makes it nearly impossible to avoid certain dangers in the road. If a car cuts in front of a driver, being able to apply the breaks quickly is necessary to avoid a collision. A driver operating on too little sleep may not have the ability to react quickly enough.

Nearly everyone’s temper is shorter when they have not had enough sleep. A quick temper and aggressive driving could cause an accident. Aggression can cause a driver to cut people off, chase a driver who cut them off, or take other unnecessary risks.

If possible, two drivers should travel together on a long trip. That way they can take turns driving if one or the other is too drowsy to drive. A driver traveling alone who has had too little sleep should not be on the road at all. If a sleepy driver thinks they will be okay to drive, but then finds that they are nodding off, they need to find a place to pull over. Stopping at a hotel for the night and starting over in the morning may cost some money and time, but it may very well save someone’s life.

[Source: Edmunds.com]

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The Actual Cost of Filling Up Your Tank

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For anyone who drives a vehicle every day, visiting the gas station to fill up is almost second nature. Going up to the pump, swiping your card or paying the cashier, inserting the nozzle, and squeezing the trigger is so commonplace to us that most of us don’t even bother to look at how much we spent that day. In fact, we definitely don’t take the time to see how much we’ve spent over the course of a month, much less a whole year.

In a recent post on the Quicken Loans Zing Blog, author Anthony Fontana took a look at how much we’re actually spending at the gas pump, breaking it down by cars, trucks and motorcycles. In the post, Fontana calculates how much an average person spends for each type of vehicle based on an estimated price of $3.85 per gallon.

For example, someone driving a vehicle with a 15-gallon tank is spending $57.75 every time they fill up. If that person has a commute that forces them to fill up once per week, then he or she is spending nearly $3,000 per year at the gas station – not including snacks, of course. Even more revealing was the annual fuel costs for a 25-gallon tank truck – over $5,000.

Obviously, these are just a couple of examples with specific parameters and each person or family’s fuel cost will be different due to various factors – vehicle size, vehicle fuel rating, commute distance and the current price of gasoline, among others.

To read the entire post from Fontana, including the estimated annual fuel cost of driving a motorcycle, check it out at the Quicken Loans Zing! blog: http://www.quickenloans.com.

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