• Porsche 911 catches fire at New York Auto Show

    April 1, 2016

    A Porsche 911 Turbo caught fire today in the Jacob Javits Center at the tail end of the New York International Auto Show.

    The 993-generation coupe was presumably present for the DUB Show Tour, which officially starts tomorrow. It appears to have been running when the fire ignited, though specific details remain unclear.

    A video of the incident shows flames emerging from the right rear fender. Staff eventually arrive with a fire extinguishers to douse the flames.

    An aftermath picture shot by Vlad Shurigin and posted to Instagram suggests the fire was quickly extinguished, though damage in the engine compartment could be extensive.

    A witness told New York Daily News the car may have experienced a fuel leak. It allegedly stalled and then ignited when the driver attempted to start it again.

    The incident is not expected to affect the NYIAS or DUB shows.

    A video posted by Mo (@moz1lla) on Mar 31, 2016 at 8:23am PDT

    A photo posted by Vlad Shurigin (@zuumy) on Mar 31, 2016 at 8:50am PDT

    Image via Instagram user ‘zuumy

  • Survey: Family most likely to cause distracted driving

    April 1, 2016

    American drivers are more likely to be distracted by queries from loved ones than by those from friends or work associates, a recent survey found.

    This, along with several other insights, came from a nationwide poll conducted by the National Safety Council (NSC) with the goal of better understanding how American drivers view (and fall victim to) distracted driving habits.

    The survey centered around electronic sources of distraction. As such, all respondents were required to have a driver’s license and a cell phone. What NSC wanted to learn was not the forms which distractions take, but rather who is responsible for encouraging (or even pressuring) drivers to be distracted by their electronic devices.

    82% of respondents said family was the most likely to pressure them into engaging in distracted behavior, followed by work (54%) and then closely by friends (50%).

    NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman pointed out the irony of the fact that those who should care about our safety may be the most detrimental to it when it comes to distraction.

    “If you really care, don’t call to say, ‘I love you,’ instead encourage your family to set everything else aside, disconnect and focus only on the road,” she said in the survey results announcement.

    When responses were broken down by age, there were some shifts. Unsurprisingly, teens more often cited friends as a source of pressure to take their eyes off the road, citing them as the most likely to prompt distraction 74% of the time. That this number is so much higher than the survey average is a good indicator of how old the average respondent was.

    Another clue to the survey demographics (most of which are available in the link above) came in the responses to a question regarding what social media activity drivers would engage in while driving if they were legally allowed to do so. 74% of drivers surveyed said they would use Facebook. What of twitter, YouTube and Instagram? They didn’t even break 40%.

    There were some more encouraging responses. For example, 65% of drivers said they wouldn’t use social media behind the wheel even if it were legal (vs. only 20% who said the same for activities such as phone calls or using GPS apps). 79% said the same for movies or television.

    Not surprisingly, when respondents were asked whether they felt that others’ distractions had put them at risk personally, 67% said yes while only 25% felt that their own (self-reported) use of technology had put them in any danger.

    Photo by Drew Johnson.

  • GM launches Commercial Link for easier fleet management

    April 1, 2016

    General Motors is rolling out a new technology suite through its OnStar telematics system that aims to keep a closer eye on vehicles being used for business purposes.

    Called Commercial Link, the new system allows business owners to see data like vehicle location, fuel level and speed in near real-time. The system can also send service and maintenance reminders, which GM says will help keep vehicle down time to a minimum.

    “Our customers are always looking for ways to increase the productivity of their vehicles, while at the same time saving money to become a better business,” said Ed Peper, U.S. vice president, General Motors Fleet. “Commercial Link is going to give them an up-to-date component they crave so that they are always in touch with their vehicles’ performance and location, no matter where they are.”

    Commercial Link is available on most 2015 model year and newer Chevy, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles. Those vehicle must have an active OnStar account, and the Commercial Link service adds another $10 on top of that subscription. Owners can keep tabs on their vehicles via a dedicated Website, or a mobile app for Apple and Android devices.

  • GM scores another win in ignition-switch bellwether trials

    April 1, 2016

    General Motors has emerged victorious in the second ignition-switch bellwether trial.

    Jurors in a Manhattan federal court ruled that a 2014 crash involving a 2007 Saturn Sky on an icy New Orleans bridge was not caused by the ignition-switch defect. GM had argued that the accident was a minor fender bender, with a collision speed too slow for airbag activation.

    “The evidence was overwhelming that this accident — like more than 30 others that occurred in the same area that night — was caused by the driver losing control on an icy bridge during a statewide winter weather emergency,” the company said in a statement to The Detroit News.

    Despite the ruling, US District Judge Jesse Furman cautioned that “the outcome in this case might not dictate the outcome in other cases.”

    The first test case was tossed after GM’s attorneys raised concerns over allegedly false statements made by plaintiffs. Arguments in the third case will be heard early in May.

  • BMW’s Connected app learns your daily routines

    April 1, 2016

    BMW has revealed Connected North America, an iPhone app that integrates with the company’s ConnectedDrive services.

    Powered by Microsoft Azure, the system is billed as a “personal mobility companion” that learns the user’s daily routines and provides a range of assistance features both in and out of the vehicle.

    The app provides estimated travel times, including behind the wheel and on foot, for routine destinations and scheduled events. Current traffic conditions are automatically monitored, eliminating the need to manually check. Users then receive notifications of optimum departure times via their iPhone or Apple Watch.

    Users can easily access a variety of common destinations including saved calendar entries, BMW service centers, charging/refueling stations and parking centers. Recent and frequent destinations are stored for quick reference, with estimated travel times listed at a glance.

    Family, friends and colleagues can be informed of the driver’s estimated arrival time via pre-formatted text messages auto-populated with the ETA.

    The new app is currently available from Apple’s App Store for ConnectedDrive customers in the US market.