Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Americans Buying Greener Cars

Just ran into a neat post from Popular Mechanics (In February, Americans Bought Greener Cars than Ever Before), talking about how many more "green" cars Americans bought in the month of February 2014.

There's no real definition of what a "green" car is, but the first paragraph does say "more efficient cars" so I guess that's what this is referring to. The combined EPA city/highway mpg rating for these cars was 25.2 mpg.

Check the article out for two cool charts.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

January Auto Show Roundup

The Washington Post website pushed out a great gallery of photos captured at this year's Washington DC Auto Show. Check it out.

Meanwhile, the Robb Report posts about the Detroit Auto Show's many luxury vehicles to tantalize your automotive taste buds. While MLive claims that more than 700K attendees crashed the show on the very first day. The Economist says that this year it's all about muscle at Detroit, in stark contrast to  last year's focus on eco-friendliness.

The Houston Chronicle teases that Detroit's best previews will be available at the Houston Auto Show.

Meanwhile, Chicago is gearing up for its own Show where size matters.

America's Safest Cars

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety put out more restrictive criteria/tests for automobiles in 2013-2014.

For one, they added their difficult-to-reach "top safety pick+" category in 2012, which includes the "small overlap test" which crashes the left quarter of the car against a stationary object at 40 mph to duplicate an often seen crash in the real world. This test is meant to see what happens when the front corners of two vehicles collide, or when a vehicle collides against a utility pole or tree.

A lot of car owners were left in the lurch this Q1 2014, as many cars that in the past have been in the IIHS' safe car or top pick categories were left off the list altogether (including my vehicle, the Honda Fit) thanks to these more stringent requirements and testing.

However, it's important to keep in mind two factors when forming an opinion about these tests and criteria:
  1. they are meant to reflect real life crashes and the danger imposed on the driver/passengers should any of these happen
  2. and secondly, what is the frequency or likelihood of one of these crashes happening to the driver/being caused by the driver
For more about the IIHS' America's Safest Cars and to see a list of the IIHS' top safety picks and top safety pick+ vehicles, see the MSN Autos article.

According to the article, 130 vehicles made the IIHS lists in 2013, while only 39 made it on this year. This poses a few questions about the reliability of past IIHS tests, and questions about why they opted to become so much more stringent this year.

Only four Toyotas made the list (not the Corolla) and none included the luxury Lexus brand. On the other hand, Honda has more models on the list than any other manufacturer, with a total of eight models which included the luxury Acura brand.