Media post: Waymo’s New Look More Than An Image Makeover

Credit: Wikipedia

The reaction was mixed when Google finally released its first self-driving prototype in 2014. The vehicle, which wouldn’t look out of place in the Pixar Cars movie, certainly wasn’t the futuristic design that many expected. In an interview with Forbes, designer YooJung Ahn claimed that this was the company’s conscious choice. Because the vehicle was only capable of reaching speeds of 25mph, the company wanted to reduce driver’s expectations. The fleet of friendly Fireflies – Google’s nickname for the prototypes – racked up millions of test miles. However, not long after, Ahn revealed that the vehicles were to be retired. As a result, it became clear that Google was focusing solely on the self-driving technology itself, not becoming a car manufacturer. The company’s director, John Krafcik, first suggested this over Christmas at the launch of Waymo.“We’ve been really clear that we’re not a car company. Although, there’s been some confusion on that point.”

The important shift In Google’s focus

Source: Waymo

Initially, there were rumors that Google would build  ‘robot taxis’. This was due to Google’s first goal to manufacture their own vehicles and self-driving software. Consequently, there was increased concern amongst car manufacturers that Google would dominate the market. However, Google’s shift in focus has meant that hardware companies are falling under their radar. As a result of this, more car manufacturers are willing to collaborate with the company. This allows driverless technology to be brought to the market at a faster rate.

Why the shift in focus?

One of the main reasons behind Google’s direction change seems to be due to money. Google’s spending in 2015 was double that of 2014. Most of the losses were because of failed commercial projects, such as Google Glass. As a result, it became important for the company to meet strict financial targets moving forward. Therefore, the company’s change of focus has been a way to reduce risks and losses. It also allows Google to receive a faster return on their investment. Google’s newest self-driving vehicle, the Chrysler mini-van, emphasizes Google’s desire to lower expenditure. Self-drive technology is integrated into an existing and practical car model. Not only has this saved by reducing costs on aesthetics, but Google can focus their expertise on the technology. Because of this, Google’s software has been able to progress rapidly.

Not just Google taking this approach

Source: Waymo

Google aren’t the only ones putting the brakes on their self-driving aspirations. Apple recently announced that it would also be focusing on self-driving technology. Previously, Apple had planned to manufacture their own vehicle as well. So, it looks more likely that regular car manufacturers will continue to design cars and integrate self-driving tech into them. Whether you are interested in self-driving technology or happy to keep trading standard automatic or manual cars, keep an eye out. This step into the future is closer than what we think.

Media post: Setting Up a Help Centre for Your Car Parking Machines

How satisfied are your customers when they leave?

Few people see the value car parks carry. They can function as part of a specific business or as a parking area for various entities. In all scenarios they carry the potential to benefit a company or impact it negatively. This may seem a drastic statement. What car park owners must keep in mind is customer satisfaction. Consumers spend a lot of time inside their vehicles. Aspects such as traffic and parking options determine many decisions people make. Drivers who are in a rush tend not to use large areas with car parking machines. The processes of entering and exiting the area add valuable minutes to their travelling times.

Why is a Help Centre Important?

A help centre must be seen as an extension of customer services. Drivers may become repeat customers if they have a favorable experience in your car park. Consumers prefer not asking for help. They see this as a waste of time. When they do ask for help they desire a quick resolution. This means that to them, a decent car parking service is worth paying for. The keys to setting up the ideal help centre is listed below. These factors must be used as guidelines for the creation and daily management of your help centre.

  1. Plan Your Centre

The correct location is key to success. Staff working in the help centre must be close to:

  • Car parking machines so they can assist in person when necessary
  • Or remotely accessible from an intercom based system on the car park machine
  • Management to discuss important situations

The office must be stocked with all that’s needed to handle:

  • Queries
  • Payments
  • Emergencies
  • Refunds

When staff members have a view of the car park it adds even more security to your site. It’s helpful to see staff members as added security personnel.

  1. Human Resources

The staff of a help centre is one of its most important assets. You must source employees with these characteristics:

  • Excellent people skills
  • Ability to solve problems and take initiative

A car park contains people and some have volatile personalities. Your staff members must handle them in a professional manner while assisting them with problems at the car parking machines. The area is also filled with cars which can cause challenging situations:

  • A car that stalls
  • A car that’s broken into
  • Fire

For all these situations people may ask help via car parking machines. Staff must handle and solve these problems.

  1. Get Quality Equipment in Place

A car park only operates as well as the equipment used. When boom systems or car parking machines fail the help centre must be able to assist. Quality equipment is essential.

Communication Equipment

When drivers are expected to pay at car parking machines they are entitled to excellent service. A help centre’s level of service is determined by communication equipment since this plays a central role in all activities:

  • Clear communication with consumers is vital. Make sure the intercom system delivers clear audio.
  • Effective communication with other staff or superiors. Telephones or radios must be able to handle the conditions. When a car park is underground, devices must have enhancers so signals aren’t lost.

Emergency services

When many cars are on your premises you don’t want emergency situations to escalate.

The help centre for your car parking machines may be the first place people ask for help when:

  • Medical emergencies occur
  • Natural disasters take place

Supply the centre with general medical supplies. There must be direct lines to emergency services such as:

  • Police
  • Hospitals
  • Fire brigade
  • Towing services
  1. Use Modern Technology

Modern technology benefits most business spheres. A help centre can become more dynamic by using mobile applications.

Mobile applications can keep all staff members informed regarding:

  • Problems with car parking machines so alternative plans can be made
  • Safety issues in certain parking bays
  • Changes in policy to minimize misunderstandings
  • Work schedules
  • Emergency issues that can influence the logistics of the car park

Implement the use of apps with all staff. When a member of the public asks for help updated information can be supplied easily.

  1. Communication is Key

In all the situations mentioned above optimum communication is vital. Staff members need:

  • Equipment:Staff must communicate with consumers via the car parking machines. Secondly they will communicate with each other and management. Install equipment for all these channels of communication.
  • Guidelines for communication: During a crisis there must be clarity regarding responsibilities and the necessary actions. Guidelines for these must be in the help centre office always. A clear chain of command is paramount.

These communication channels must be audited and tested regularly. When unique situations arise—such as reserved parking for special guests—it can be handled quick without confusion or time wastage.

  1. Invest in Training

Don’t let a help centre open unless staff members are prepared. Training must take place beforehand instead of on the job.

General Information

A company’s code of conduct must be implemented in the help centre crew. They may be the only representatives of a business the public comes in contact with. It’s essential they act in ways the company approves of.

Technical Training

The help centre staff must understand the car parking machines and the payment methods available to the public. It’s beneficial if they can troubleshoot and do repairs. Drivers’ problems can then be sorted out fast.

Health and Safety

Any public area must adhere to laws. This includes health and safety regulations. During emergency procedures, the public invariably contacts help centres. Staff must assist with advice that is in line with the law. It may be necessary to train in security and first aid. Staff must handle dangerous situations and help with basic medical emergencies when necessary.

  1. Audit

No business can stay on par without regular audits and improvements. Put a report system in place:

  • Staff must report on requests and problems. This shows which areas need improvement.
  • With technological advances you can obtain reviews or feedback from the public via an app. Determine their areas of concern to further improve the help centre and car park.

It’s about offering drivers a fast answer to parking problems. Most of the time car parking machines will take care of the public’s requests. But one problem can cause an entire breakdown, which influences all motoristson site. Your help centre must know how to find a solution—fast.

Media post: How to Save Money Over the Lifetime of Your Car

Saving money on a car isn’t all about the price you pay when you drive it off the lot. Saving on car ownership involves small decisions made each day that you own the vehicle. Of course, choosing the right car for savings is important; see this list of cheapest cars to insure in Canada for good examples. But no matter what car you own or plan to own, there are expensive ways to own it and affordable ways to own it.

Insurance – Insurance is necessary for every car on the road, but not all owners pay the same rates. Car insurance varies according to many factors. Sports cars are more expensive to insure than towncars. This is the case for many reasons. Luxury vehicles cost more to repair, because their parts are rarer and more expensive, as well as because the repair work may be more specialized. Faster and stronger vehicles are more likely to be driven at speeds that could cause greater damage. Finally, desirable vehicles are more likely to be stolen. Think about these kinds of considerations when choosing any vehicle at all, not just sportscars. Choose one that will be easy to insure, insofar as that is a high priority for you. In some countries, old vehicles can be insured for next to nothing.

Maintenance – It costs more to maintain a car over time than it does to repair a catastrophic mechanical breakdown. It may seem like you’re saving money pushing your car to the limit, skating by on nothing but oil changes. But, this tends to shorten the life of your car and make it more expensive to keep on the road in the long run. It may seem disheartening to regularly maintain a vehicle. “I just had this thing in the shop a month ago!” Even so, this is better than having to sell your car for scrap 6 months down the line, only to buy a new one. Buying a new car is almost always the most expensive part of owning said car, and should be kept to a bare minimum.

Don’t Rely on Your Car for Everything – There’s such a thing as over-driving a car. Your car might be built for high performance, and may be able to stand up to some abuse. But why drive when you could transport yourself by bike, ride share, walking, or public transportation for as cheap or cheaper? This will save on fuel costs, wear and tear, and will be more resource-efficient than constantly driving your car, even when you don’t absolutely have to.

There are lots of ways to make owning a car affordable. Expenses of car ownership are associated with predictable uses and behaviors. If you can cut down on these, and up the ante when it comes to preventative maintenance, you’ll find that you can affordably drive your car for many years to come. Keeping it in a good condition will also increase its resale or trade-in value, further adding to the money you save over the lifetime of your vehicle.

Media post: Survey Finds Only One in Ten Drivers Have GAP Insurance

2016 saw a record high for used cars sales, with the volume of sales declining slightly coming into the start of 2017. However, surprisingly, a recent survey from Opinium has revealed that very few drivers are properly protecting their investments and are leaving themselves open for potentially huge loses, should they crash.

In a survey of 2,000 drivers, only just over a quarter of those surveyed (28%) said that they were familiar with GAP Insurance and what it entailed. Over two thirds of respondents (72%) said that they had either never heard of the type of insurance, or were unfamiliar with it. Surprisingly, only 11% of participants in the survey revealed that they actually had GAP Insurance.

What Is GAP Insurance?

GAP insurance can be vital if you pay for a car via finance, particularly if you only offer a small deposit and spread the payment over a number of years.

This is because, if you’re involved in an accident, and if your car is written off, then your insurance company will only pay out what the car was worth at the time of the accident, not the amount that you paid for it. Due to the fact that cars depreciate in value – sometimes rapidly – this could mean that you’re paid out less than you owe, potentially by thousands of pounds. With studies showing that one in five drivers have a car written off during their time spent driving, this is a serious issue.

GAP Insurance means that the ‘gap’ between what your car is worth currently and the amount paid by the insurer is covered. Your GAP insurer will pay the difference between these two amounts, meaning that you’re not out of pocket and don’t owe any finance on a vehicle you no longer own.

Why Don’t Drivers Have GAP Insurance?

As the above has shown, it appears as though GAP Insurance is vital for most drivers with finance. However, many drivers do not currently have GAP Insurance because they’re unaware of its existence.

In response to the above survey, 35% of respondents didn’t know that GAP Insurance existed, while 29% were never offered it and 19% said that they didn’t know enough about it to make an informed decision. Only 15% didn’t buy it because they didn’t see the point of it.

How Do I Get GAP Insurance?

Getting GAP Insurance is easier than ever before. Thanks to the advent of the internet, it’s far simpler than ever to research what level of coverage you need, and to find the best provider for your requirements.

Whereas people used to be tied into what they were offered at the dealership, now online companies also offer GAP Insurance, which can help to provide a more affordable solution than the forecourt options, which often come at a premium.

However, before you buy GAP Insurance, you should always do your research to make sure that you’re getting the correct level of cover, as the cheapest package may not necessarily be the best.

Media post: Why Won’t My Car Start?

Ever had a time that your car wouldn’t start? Yup, it’s not much fun – especially if its dark and/or raining outside. The maddening part is that you just want to know: is it time to call AAA or simply get a jump start? There’s a big difference between those two options, especially if it’s late and you are in an area that you don’t feel safe.

In this guide, we will do something different. Rather than explain how the starting system works in a car and all the techno-babble stuff, we will look at the immediate symptoms you are experiencing and give some quick guidance as to what to do. (OK, we might give you a little techno-babble because we really can’t help ourselves. Sorry.)

Headlights do not turn on. Turn the key, no noise and nothing happens

This is usually the symptom of a dead battery. If the car was running recently (like a few hours ago) but just not now, your battery is probably just dead and needs a jump start. This can come from someone who will help you out or by calling AAA. (Note: this is a good time to mention that it’s always a good idea to carry jumper cables in your car. You can get them in handy storage cases or pouches that can be stashed under the seats or in the trunk.)

Headlights turn on. Turn the key, you only hear a loud “whirring” sound

Probably a bad starter. Here’s what we learned from Efird of Florence, a local Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer in Florence, SC. Car starters are standard DC motors but use a device called an overrunning clutch. When you turn the ignition key on, the starter solenoid interlocks the starter’s pinion gear with the flywheel. Once the engine starts, the overrunning clutch releases the pinion gear. However, if the solenoid mechanism is too worn to engage the flywheel in the first place, then all you’ll hear is a whirring sound as it spins away. This is call AAA time.

Headlights turn on. Turn the key, you hear a loud click sound

Two parts to this diagnosis. The first one is that your battery is charged up but you just have a bad connection to it. If you feel comfortable with it, open the hood and check the connections to the battery. Make sure they aren’t loose. The second diagnosis is that you have just enough charge to cause the solenoid to click, but your battery is almost dead. If this is the case, you just need a jump start. If jumping the battery doesn’t work, its AAA time.

Headlights are turn on. Turn the key, the engine cranks and cranks but does not start

This symptom means that your starter system (battery, starter and wiring) is just fine, something else is not working. The most obvious thing is you are out of gas but that rarely happens when a car has just been sitting. It’s more likely that you have a failure with your ignition or fuel system. This, of course, is a situation where the best option is to call AAA because your car needs to be seen by a mechanic.

By the way, if you are having car trouble and you do not feel safe, it is entirely acceptable to call the local police. They won’t usually help you out with AAA or help jump your car,but they can provide safety while you attend to your vehicle.

Media post: The Difference Between Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles

Picture motortrend.com 

Many people think that a Plug-in Hybrid vehicle is just a Hybrid vehicle with the ability to be charged.  While that statement is technically true, there is a bit more to; There are differences in the way the two operate under the hood. In this article, we will look at each of these in detail. If you are considering the purchase of a hybrid car, you will probably find that one of these fits your lifestyle and transportation needs better than the other.

What is a Hybrid Car?

Hybrid cars use a standard combustion engine coupled to an electric motor. Both of these engines are used to power the vehicle. According to Metro Kia Atlanta, a local Kia dealer in Cartersville, GA, in its most simple form, a hybrid vehicle will use the electric motor to power the vehicle at lower speeds. It will then switch to the combustion engine when faster speeds are required. The hybrid system may make use of both the electric and combustion motor together if extra horsepower is needed, for example when accelerating fast or going up a hill.

The principle advantage of using a hybrid car is that it is very efficient. By coupling a small gas-powered engine with an electric motor, the vehicle will use less fuel and will pollute less than a standard gasoline powered car. Another advantage concerns the availability of fuel. Since the primary powerplant is the internal combustion engine, owners can take advantage of the existing infrastructure of gas stations across the country.

What is a Plug-In Hybrid?

Where a regular hybrid is pretty much a typical internal combustion engine with added an electrical motor, a plug-in hybrid approaches things from the other direction. A plug-in hybrid is more like a pure electric vehicle (a vehicle powered only by batteries). A plug-in hybrid uses its electric motor as often as possible, and will only make use of the internal combustion engine when the voltage level of the batteries has dropped to the point that it can no longer power the vehicle. In other words, a plug-in hybrid uses all the battery’s power before the internal combustion engine kicks in.

The advantage to this is the charging feature. If you “plug in” your vehicle during the day or night, you might never use the internal combustion engine. Especially if you drive your vehicle less than 100 miles or so per day because your vehicle will operate essentially like an EV. It will run off the batteries.

Which is best for you?

Ultimately, you should aim for a car that’s as free of fossil-fuel dependence as possible. If not for the environment, then for the long-term benefits to your bank account when it comes to fuel costs. And remember, fossil fuels could get much more expensive in the future.

If your daily driving racks up some 100-200 miles or so, consider a plug-in hybrid. The reason is that your power will come primarily from the electricity that you charge your car with, which is cheaper than gasoline. If your driving consists of far longer distances, consider a standard hybrid which can be gassed up at any filling station.

Media post: Did Ford Have A Makeover?

Ford is an interesting car company; it tries to never become stale in its innovation and car designs. I’ve noticed in the last couple of years or so that when I do a double take on a car that’s driving by it’s usually a Ford. In fact, it’s always a Ford automobile. Whoever is in charge of engineering and model design has done some sweet magic with almost all of the Ford models including the ever-popular Explorer.

The first time I saw one of the new Ford Explorers I thought it was a new European SUV that had recently landed on our shores to show us how car manufacturing should really be done. When I looked closely for the car’s logo I saw the oval Blue badge with the distinctive Ford name on it. I had to look again and again at it because my eyes wouldn’t believe what they were looking at. Once I was sure it was a Ford Explorer I began to change the way I thought and I realized that Ford has truly been an innovator in the industry the whole time it has been in business.

It’s been over a hundred years sine Mr. Henry Ford started his company and made the most affordable cars in America because of his innovative assembly line and his cost-saving ways of keeping waste at a minimum and safety and function at the forefront. Ford has always been one of the most popular and best selling automobile brands in history. Just like the 2017 Ford Explorer is today.

This SUV has plenty of power and great features that go perfectly with its good looks and sleek lines. The Explorer seats up to seven passengers and is powered by a 3/5-liter V6 engine that gets you where you need to go in comfort and on time. It has a large cargo area and a hands-free lift gate that works beautifully if your key is in your bag or pocket just by waving your foot under the rear bumper. The new Explorer also boasts power-folding second and third row seats that fold completely flat at the touch of a button. Gateway Ford has all the new Ford models including the 2017 Ford Explorer. Come and see this beautiful SUV for yourself.

Media post: Dodge Done Right! The Durango Does It Again!

The 2017 Dodge Durango always gets great reviews. And why not! It’s a roomy and classy crossover SUV that has a lot of style and a big and very competent V8 engine that will get you and all of your family members wherever it is you want to go. The three rows of seats in this big, comfy transporter make sure everyone is taken care of and that everyone has plenty of arm, head and leg room. It can tow just about anything and its 8.4-inch touchscreen allows the driver to safely manage any controls with peace of mind. The nice thing about the new Durango is that it is built to be user friendly.

Friendly it definitely is, so don’t let its muscular appearance and its power fool you into thinking that the Durango is all work and no play. It was built tough so you could enjoy yourself and not have to worry about your SUV not doing its job, which is to serve you and get you to your destination safely. The Durango has plenty of standard features to make your travelling more enjoyable: three-zone climate control, cruise control, a six-speaker sound system with an auxiliary audio jack, an SD card reader and a USB connection, auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth connectivity, 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, fog lamps, keyless entry and ignition, load-leveling rear suspension, heated mirrors, seven passenger seating, a 5-inch touchscreen interface, height adjustable driver seat, 60/40 split-folding and reclining second row seat and a 50/50 split-folding third row seat.

The new Durango comes standard with a V6, 3.6-liter engine, which puts out 290 horsepower along with 260 pound-feet of torque. Rear wheel drive and an eight speed automatic transmission are also standard equipment and all-wheel drive is an option. Fuel economy for the V6 is 19 miles per gallon in the city and 26 on the highway or about 21 miles per gallon combined. The Durango V6 can tow up to 6,200 pounds and can hit 60 miles an hour from a dead stop in 7.8 seconds.

Antilock brakes, stability and traction control along with a driver knee airbag, full-length side curtain airbags and front side airbags are some of the safety features in the new Durango. The rearview camera and rear parking sensor are other standard safety features. Bodwell Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge has the new 2017 Durango for you to test drive.

Media post: Wouldn’t you rather be driving an Audi?

That’s not only a good question – it should be a statement of fact. In other words, when an Audi drives by or should we say, flies by, don’t you always turn your head and follow that beautifully designed car with your eyes until it is out of sight? Of course you do, Everybody does. The reasons are simple: Audi’s have presence and they have a quiet, but extremely confident personality that says to all its watchers “I’m here.”

The Audi A7 is in a class all its own. It is a refined car, that has all the elegance of the most luxurious cars in the world and the sportiness of a quick racecar that is always ahead of the pack. The Audi A7 gets 24 miles per gallon combined city and highway driving and it can hit 60 miles an hour from a dead stop in 4.8 seconds. It comes standard with a V6, 3.0-liter engine that puts out 333 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. The Audi A7 comes standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.

The Premium Plus trim level offers a lot of standard equipment such as, leather upholstery, an 8-inch pop-up display screen, rearview camera, heated eight-way power seats, drive memory settings, four-zone automatic climate control system, Audi Connect, which provides Google Earth enhanced navigation, Google search functions, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 4G LTE with mobile Wi-Fi hotspot capability, MMI infotainment system, Bluetooth, satellite radio and USB connectivity, CD player and a 14-speaker Bose surround sound system.

If that’s not enough then here’s more: 19-inch wheels, auto-dimming power folding heated mirrors, an adaptive rear spoiler, keyless entry and ignition, front and rear parking sensors, automatic wipers, blind spot warning, automatic LED adaptive headlights, Audi Drive Select with adjustable settings for accelerator, steering and transmission response, to name a few.

The safety features on the Audi A7 are also impressive. Some more standard equipment on the A7 include: Anti-lock brakes, stability controls, rear side airbags, full length side curtain airbags, front seat side airbags, front knee airbags and Audi Pre Sense Basic and Rear system that warns the driver, if a collision is detected. This system also tightens seat belts, closes the windows, apply the brakes as necessary and use the rear brake lights to warn any cars behind you to slow down. If you do have to stop fast, the Audi A7 can stop from a speed of 60 miles an hour in only 106 feet. Safety is just one more thing that makes people say they would rather drive an Audi. See your Audi at Audi Valencia.

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