|Image courtesy of Zero Hedge|
Monday, March 30, 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
|Image courtesy of knowyourmeme.com|
There is certainly no shortage of anecdotes of people going into dealers, spurred by promises of super cheap cars or ridiculously lenient financing terms, only to be given the bait and switch routine when they sit down to sign the paperwork. On top of that, there have been numerous recent stories of dealers self-financing deals and then recalling buyers to essentially tell them that their loans were not approved in order to gouge them for more money on the monthly payment. The most recent round of unscrupulous behavior to make the news has been Dodge dealers taking orders on Challenger and Charger Hellcats that they not only know they do not have in stock, but will likely not ever be able to order. This kind of behavior is precisely why Americans absolutely despise the process of buying cars and why people seem to be willing to support the idea of direct sales on certain cars, a process that Tesla has used to great effect since it started deliveries on the Model S.
The Feds have already filed suit against several dealerships as well as financial services companies that have been accused of the alleged behavior and the campaign will continue until this kind of behavior stops. Best of all, because the cases are often being brought as lawsuits, the FTC is actually forcing the defendants in the cases to pay back ill-gotten gains.
Click past the jump to read the press release and learn more about "Operation Ruse Control."
Monday, March 23, 2015
In principle, this idea of a mileage tax makes sense for several reasons.
One, our cars have gotten increasingly efficient. Your high volume sale family sedan these days gets miles per gallon in the low 20s in the city and low 30s on the highway. Even among entry luxury cars, it is not uncommon to see over 30 mpg these days for highway mileage. That reduction in fuel consumption has led to a significant reduction in the collection of gas taxes, which have not increased proportionally with the increase in fuel economy; a fact that has led to significant reductions in the upkeep, maintenance, and construction of new roads.
Three, mileage taxes would allow us to reset the expectations around road usage and if priced correctly, might actually serve as a way to encourage the use of alternative transportation. Since the current gasoline tax has not increased significantly since its introduction, phasing in a new way to cover the costs while subtly adjusting for the discrepancy in costs would allow the highway funds to be replenished and might reduce wear and tear by reducing the number of users. Many road users, especially car drivers in metropolitan areas, could easily switch to public transit or cycling for their commutes which would reduce congestion and road wear during the work week and a mileage based tax might just be the way to encourage this behavior.
Of course, OreGo is still in an early test phase and it will be a while before we see how the results actually pan out. As progressive as Oregon might be, its residents are just as wary of some of the potential privacy issues that a mileage-based taxation program might bring. That is one of the key reasons why OreGo will have options for owners on how they want to report their mileage. But at the very least, Oregon is once again taking the initial plunge and is at the forefront pioneering a new idea, that may eventually trickle out to the rest of the states. This is one experiment that we will be watching intently to see what kind of results are produced.
Friday, March 20, 2015
Current mileage: 7,333
One of the things that the car magazines have continued to complain about with the RLX is the dual-screen infotainment system that debuted with the car in late 2013. Most of the complaints say that the system is confusing, difficult to use, or slow to respond. Most reviewers, who spend only a matter of hours with the car, never having the time to dive deep into the system to tweak its many features to suit their usage, feel that the system becomes an encumbrance to the overall ownership experience and that the design can feel dated. Of course, I will not disagree with those reviewers on the graphical design used for the interface as Acura is often noted for being a few steps behind the curve when it comes to this kind of stuff, but I will disagree about how user-friendly the system is.
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
This time around, while it was still a family trip, things were significantly different. We would depart during the day to ensure that there was plenty of daylight along the way and our ride was not a rented car, but rather our trusty and spacious 2014 Acura MDX.
Monday, March 16, 2015
|Image courtesy of http://emblemsbf.com/order-1181.html|
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Monday, March 9, 2015
A frequent argument that many cycling detractors use against cyclists is that they do not pay taxes and therefore do not have a right to use the road. While the usual counter argument to this fallacy is that many cyclists are also owners of cars, and thus pay their share that way, there may be a different argument that could have an even greater impact. What if I told you that getting more people to ride bikes could actually have an improvement on the overall US economy?
At first glance, that seems almost too simple so as to be laughable, but hear me out. The Wall Street Journal recently published an article discussing how the US economy was being impacted by the inability to maintain and replace aging infrastructure that forced many US companies to lose efficiency in the name of meeting their obligations to customers. One example they gave was that the amount of congestion in large cities can get so bad that UPS, one of the largest package delivery operations in the world, was forced to place additional trucks on the road to cover the same route just to be able to ensure that they could make all of their deliveries on time. Having those extra trucks on the road not only adds to the congestion that is causing the problem, but also contributes towards pollution, a less visible cost. Those extra trucks also result in greater wear and tear on that aging infrastructure, further accelerating its deterioration.
Take a city like Los Angeles, which is notorious for its traffic congestion and constant road work to maintain a massive network of roads that allow people to make their daily commutes. According to the US Census Bureau's 2009 American Community Survey, there are around 5.5 million commuters in the LA-Long Beach-Santa Ana metro area that commute to work every day and 84% of those commutes are taken by car. Of those commuters, 21.15% of them drive less than 15 minutes in order to get to work. That means there are potentially 1.17 million people who could probably ride a bicycle to work. If we conservatively estimate that we could switch 1 million people from driving to bicycling or other forms of mass transit for their commutes, that would remove close to 1 million cars from the roads during the most congested times, a reduction of nearly 20% in the volume of cars on the road.
|Image courtesy of irishcycles.com|
If we think about this further, that reduction in congestion would make commerce more efficient and would reduce the amount of money, time, and energy we would need to spend on maintaining and upgrading roads and other infrastructure. At the same time, to accommodate the increased volume in cyclists, new projects could be planned that provide protected cycling infrastructure to help urban and suburban roads handle the extra bike traffic which would be long lasting as bicycles, with their significantly smaller footprint, do not place much wear and tear on roads. Additionally, all of those cars off the road means less gasoline consumed and fewer pollutants released into the air.
|An example of the kind of bike infrastructure|
that could be built
Now the economic impact comes in a few different ways. One, the consumer spending on cycling and related equipment would provide a boost to the retail segment with many local bike shops as well as big box retailers receiving the bulk of the benefit and hopefully needing to hire more staff to handle the increase in sales. Two, studies show that cyclists are more likely to spend funds locally, which means local economies will likely see a boost in sales from the increased presence of cyclists leading to more sales tax revenue. Three, cyclists tend to be healthier so spending on healthcare will decrease allowing for more disposable income to be spent elsewhere, providing a boost to the retail and restaurant sectors. Four, the projects needed to put in place proper infrastructure to handle the larger volume of cyclists will also create new construction jobs locally that, while temporary, will help put more people to work. A side benefit of this is that cycling is more accessible to people and by improving the infrastructure, it allows more people to go further to seek out job opportunities. Finally, the reduced congestion and fewer cars on the road allows for an opportunity to finally fix all that aging infrastructure and design it properly to accommodate the new traffic demands, leading to yet more construction jobs.
Of course, this is a greatly simplified look at the potential economic impact of increasing cycling, but hopefully one that provides some food for thought. While it is not possible for everyone to do, anyone who drives less than 15 minutes to get to work should take a serious look at cycling as a viable alternative for their commute. By making a minor change, especially in an area where the weather is cooperative year-round like Los Angeles, could have a tremendous impact on the overall quality of life all the residents in the area.
Friday, February 27, 2015
|Image courtesy of USAToday|