Tag Archives: Automotive

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EV sales reach record numbers, electricity providers move to meet demand

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U.S.-based sales of electric vehicles increased more than 72 percent in 2018 from the previous year, with the class of autos moving more than 354,000 such vehicles.

Tesla was the strongest performer. Sales of the manufacturer’s three battery-powered models were reported Jan. 3, totaling more than 191,000 vehicles in 2018, compared with 50,000 in 2017. Tesla sold 139,782 Model 3s in 2018, compared with 1,764 in 2017. The Model 3 is the top selling EV in the US.

According to InsideEVs, 2018 sales figures show that Tesla’s battery powered Model X sold 26,100 units and its Model S sold 25,745 units.

Toyota ranked second in terms of sales in 2018, with the Prius Prime selling 27,595 vehicles in the U.S. Honda’s Clarity plug-in hybrid sold 18,211 units in 2018. GM’s hybrid, the Chevrolet Volt, sold 18,306 units in 2018. Despite these figures, or possibly because of them, in November 2018, GM said it would close down the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly facility where the Volt has been built since late 2010 and that the model was to be discontinued Mar. 1, 2019.

GM is moving forward with its pure battery-powered vehicle, the Bolt. In 2018, GM sold 18,019 Bolts, ranking seventh in the U.S. In 2017, the Bolt was the second most popular EV, behind only the Tesla Model S, with sales of 23,297 units.

In other encouraging news for the EV market, the Edison Electric Institute and the Institute for Electric Innovation said that the transition to electric vehicles is well underway with “more than 1 million EVs on US roads as of October 2018.” The report’s authors said automakers were responding to customer demand. Thus, both plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are “increasingly cost-competitive with internal combustion engines.”

The electric vehicle sales appear in record territory and electricity companies are working to move the EV infrastructure system forward to meet demand. The organization said it estimates that by 2030 there will about 19 million on U.S. roadways or about 7 percent of all vehicles, which it said totals about 260 million by that time.

By the end of the end of the next decade, almost 10 million charge ports will be required to need the rise demand. “This level of increase in power demand will prove important to US utilities who are concerned with flattening demand for their power,” S&P Global Platts said.

“Utilities are making big pushes to install chargers for EVs,” Zane McDonald, Platts Analytics’ senior transportation technology analyst, said. “They are installing the wires to stimulate this extra demand.”

Worldwide, the current sales of plug-in EV sales totaled 1.7 million units, up nearly 40 percent from 2017 at 1.2 million cars sold. In fact, Tesla, long known for its headlines about operating at a loss, finally announced that it was profitable.

The rise in EV car sales may be related to federal incentives in the form of a $7,500 tax credit. That credit will drop to $3,500 in 2019 and to zero in 2020. Sales of EVs are not expected to remain as strong as seen in 2018, though, on fears that the U.S. may be entering an economic slowdown.

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Why are on-the-job deaths of large-truck drivers on the rise?

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The number of large-truck drivers who died in a traffic fatality reached a record level in 2017 — the last year with complete data available. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, large-truck occupant fatalities in multiple-vehicle crashes increased by 28.5 percent from 2016. Large-truck occupant fatalities in single-vehicle crashes increased by 8.7 percent from 2016.

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Boutique airports, airlines are on the rise

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In a world defined by stiff global competition, heightened user experiences, and demanding social media presences, the bigger is better mindset has been ruling for some time. But some regional airports and smaller airlines have been quietly rewriting this messaging.

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The mad dash to quell drivers’ fears about autonomous vehicle safety

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Apparently, in an attempt to ward off the Skynet-led techno-apocalypse, people in the American Southwest are attacking self-driving cars. While this sounds insane, in light of recent incidents where autonomous vehicles have led to the injury and even death of citizens, it makes sense in a sort of morbid way.

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Anchorage airport saw its best year ever with record passenger, cargo figures in 2018

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Alaska’s principal gateway is celebrating its best year ever following publication of its 2018 figures, which showed record passenger numbers and major growth in its cargo business.

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Infographic: What does your car know about you?

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While autonomous cars are not yet flooding the marketplace, your car is still doing a number of things without you realizing it. In the guise of providing you with improved services like GPS and voice texting, your car is also collecting data on you that can be used by whomever car manufacturers feel should be privy to the information.

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Visiting the Grand Canyon during winter

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Grand Canyon National Park celebrates its centennial season this year, and the nation’s second most popular national park is expected to draw a record number of visitors — a figure that could top 6.5 million. So, if you’d like to join the 100th birthday celebration for the majestic canyon’s national park, we’d strongly suggest you beat the crowds with a winter visit.

While the canyon’s North Rim closes to the public during the winter, the South Rim remains open, and the park’s scenic drives, viewpoints, trails, lodgings and RV campgrounds are delightfully uncongested.

At an average elevation of 7,000 feet, the South Rim’s winter daytime temperatures can, of course, can be on the chilly side (typically 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit) but conditions are usually ideal for canyon gazing; hiking; biking; and mule, horse and helicopter rides.

Although infrequent, dramatic winter storms can bring several inches of snow, they are generally followed by sunny days, perfect for walking along the rim or into the canyon along Bright Angel Trail. Crisp air and a dusting of snow bring a new perspective to the multicolored sandstone temples and buttes emerging from the 6,000-foot-deep canyon floor and provide a splendid backdrop for viewing the canyon’s flora and fauna.

Mule deer, elk, Albert and Kaibab tree squirrels, bald eagles, California condors and ravens are just some of the wildlife that can be spotted during the winter.

A pair of in-park campgrounds host RVers year-round. Mather Campground, managed by the National Park Service, keeps its Sage and Pine loops open all winter. From March through November, the campground accepts reservations up to six months in advance at www.recreation.gov, while sites are available the rest of the year on a first-come, first-served basis.

Mather Campground doesn’t have hookups and limits RV length to 30 feet, but neighboring Trailer Village RV Park provides full-hookup sites up for rigs up to 50 feet. The park takes year-round reservations up to 12 months in advance at www.visitgrandcanyon.com.

From either campground, the paved Village Greenway trail leads to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center, where a 20-minute film and interactive exhibits offer a compelling introduction to the park. The Village Greenway continues on to the South Rim with its many miles of paved walking and biking trails — all offering spectacular views.

RVers choosing to camp outside the park will find a number of commercial parks near Interstate 40 and in the town of Williams, Arizona, about an hour’s drive south of the canyon.

For a truly unique experience, visitors can hop aboard the Grand Canyon Railway (www.thetrain.com) in Williams and enjoy a day-trip to the park aboard a train composed of vintage locomotives and 1920s Pullman coaches. Currently on offer is an attractively priced Winter Getaway Package, including round-trip train transportation plus lodging and meals at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams.

For those seeking lodging in the park, there are several possibilities, topped by the legendary 1905 El Tovar Hotel, ideally located directly on the canyon rim. Four other South Rim lodges — Bright Angel, Kachina, Thunderbird and Maswik — are open all winter as well. For reservations, see www.grandcanyonlodges.com.

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Auto industry expected to experience significant decrease in demand — but there’s a Plan B

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A recent report by Bain & Company reveals that, by 2025, U.S. vehicle demand will drop to 11.5 million — and perhaps even lower if the rate of immigrants entering the country declines. Demand was at 16 million in 2009, and 13.5 million in 2018. What’s causing the decline in demand, and how can U.S. auto manufacturers weather this disruption?

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What to expect from Airbnb on its 11th birthday

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This month marks the 11th birthday for Airbnb. Founded in 2008, Airbnb is the first and now dominant player in the P2P (peer-to-peer) short-term residential rental business.

Last year at Airbnb’s 10th birthday, the company’s CEO Brian Chesky delivered a keynote speech — Airbnb for everyone. Around the same period, the company rolled out two new brands to its current product line: Airbnb Plus and Beyond by Airbnb.

Within 10 years, Airbnb has already turned itself into more than just a marketplace for room-sharing services. The company also sells other travel experiences and even rooms for other hotels, similar to what OTAs (online travel agents such as Expedia and Priceline) offer. Additionally, Airbnb began competing head-to-head with other hotel giants in the real estate market.

There is no doubt that Airbnb has become more than just a room-sharing enterprise, but what other markets is Airbnb after? What can we expect at Airbnb’s 11th birthday? Here are a few possibilities:

Will Airbnb enter the transportation business?

Airbnb announced earlier this month that Fred Reid, a former airline executive, would join the company as its global head of transportation. Fred’s aviation experience includes being the founding CEO of Virgin America, a former president of Delta Airlines and Lufthansa Airlines, as well as a key player who helped create the Star Alliance program, the first frequent flyer program that allowed travelers to earn and redeem mileages from a group of partnered airlines for reward travels.

In such a new position, Fred will be responsible for building partnerships with other travel and tourism companies, which are expected to help Airbnb provide transportation services to the travelers in addition to accommodations. Ultimately (possibly in a few years), travelers will be able to book a flight ticket or arrange other transportation on Airbnb.com.

Will Airbnb introduce more new brands to its short-term residential rental business?

The debut of Airbnb Plus and Beyond by Airbnb in last February was a good start. Earlier this month, the company began testing a new product — Airbnb Luxe in London.

Some additional amenities that may come with Airbnb Luxe homes include: airport transfer, car rental, childcare, butler, driver, restaurant concierge and spa services, to name a few. The tagline for Airbnb Luxe is “extraordinary homes with five-star everything.”

Will Airbnb finally launch a loyalty program that rewards its hosts and travelers?

It has been a year since we first discussed Airbnb’s plan in adding a loyalty program to reward its hosts and travelers, but the company has not yet released any major announcements in that regard.

Meanwhile, hotels are trying to pull in travelers with larger loyalty programs and are making updates on existing terms. There is a need for Airbnb to introduce a thoughtfully designed loyalty program that rewards its loyal customers.

Will Airbnb be able to find ways to solve its legal dilemmas?

Airbnb is dealing with many legal issues now, such as discrimination and charges of unfair competition in the lodging sector. While some research showed that Airbnb could possibly help local businesses, more tourist destinations are adding more legal restrictions on short-term residential rentals than before. It becomes critical for Airbnb to come up with better solutions to those legal issues as the company continues to grow.

What do you expect from Airbnb’s 11th birthday? What needs the company’s immediate attention now?

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