First California Permit to Test Self-Driving Cars Goes to Audi

AudiAutonomousCar

Audi announced today that it had received the first permit issued by California for the testing of self-driving, or autonomous, cars on the Golden State's roadways. The news comes the same day as California's new laws governing the testing of automated vehicles take effect with an eye toward the eventual consumer use of driverless cars.

Related: Survey: Motorists Apprehensive About Driverless Cars

"California roads are especially crucial to Audi Piloted driving testing because the state is home to the brand's Electronics Research Lab," the automaker stated in a news release. "ERL engineers are working on a wide range of automated driving issues, including human-machine interface prompts that indicate when the human or the vehicle are handling driving functions."

By Matt Schmitz | September 16, 2014 | Comments (5)

New House Report Blasts NHTSA

GMHQ

On the heels of yesterday's New York Times investigation, a report from the House Energy and Commerce Committee blasted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for an alleged series of critical mistakes leading up to GM's recall of some 2.2 million small cars in the U.S. over faulty ignitions.

Related: GM Ignition-Switch Recall: What Owners Need To Know

The 44-page report claims NHTSA had information to identify the defects, which have been linked to more than a dozen deaths, as early as 2007. The report also concludes that the agency failed to link three investigations on crashes involving airbags that didn't deploy in the Chevrolet Cobalt and didn't understand "vehicle systems and functions implemented in response to the agency's own standards," including the link between airbags and vehicle power.

NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman defended the agency to The Detroit News on Monday, saying he'd met with a dozen automakers to facilitate further discussions on how vehicle systems interact. NHTSA's actions have also prompted some 1,300 recalls over the past decade.

Click here to read more on the report from The Detroit News.

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By Kelsey Mays | September 16, 2014 | Comments (0)

How Rude! Discourteous Drivers Ranked by State

RudeDrivers

While it's unlikely that any one state has the market cornered on inconsiderate drivers, a recent study concludes that some places are more obnoxious than others. Insure.com in July surveyed 2,000 licensed drivers from across the U.S., half women and half men, and ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia according to their relative rudeness. And among them all, the Gem State shone brightest.

Related: Poll: What's the Worst Driving Behavior

Idaho ranked as the No. 1 rudest state in the study. Survey respondents' attitude toward this potato-producing state is rooted in its alleged bumper crump of both speedy spuds and slow-rolling couch potatoes. "The roadways of Idaho present a dichotomy of drivers: Those who are moving so slowly that they're judged to be rude, and the aggressive drivers who speed around them and flip them off," Insure.com said in a statement.

The five driving behaviors that bothered survey participants the most, followed by the percentage reporting so, were:

By Matt Schmitz | September 16, 2014 | Comments (5)

Video: Five Things Families Should Look for in SUVs

Need a vehicle that can accommodate your growing family, but recoil at the very notion of a minivan or station wagon? OK, by default you've selected an SUV, so Cars.com reviewer Kelsey Mays says there are some factors you must now consider, including seats, step-in height, third-row access, cargo space and child-safety provisions. Watch the video for tips on making the best buy for your brood.

By Matt Schmitz | September 12, 2014 | Comments (0)

Gas Prices Reach Half-Year Low

GasPrices

Gas prices continued to ease in most parts of the country after the Labor Day weekend, and motorists in some areas are now paying the lowest pump prices in months. The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas fell by only a penny or two in many areas, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report. That was enough to push the national average down a penny the past week to $3.42, the lowest in more than six months. Diesel fuel also fell by a penny to $3.79.

Related: Gas Prices Continue to Fall

In Alaska, the statewide average fell 2 cents to $4, the lowest since the end of May. Hawaii had the nation's most expensive gas, with the statewide average unchanged at $4.27, followed by Alaska and Washington, $3.86, and Oregon, $3.85. Prices continued to retreat in California, falling 3 cents the past week to $3.81, the lowest average there since late-February.

By Rick Popely | September 12, 2014 | Comments (0)

Detroit Tops U.S. In Car Insurance Costs

DrivingInDetroit

Detroit isn't just the car capital of the U.S. — it's also the king of car-insurance costs. According to insuranceQuotes.com, a subsidiary of finance-info provider Bankrate Insurance, the Motor City and its metropolitan area lay claim to the dubious distinction of having the most expensive auto insurance in the nation.

Related: Know Your Limits: Minimum Auto Coverage Varies by State

Detroit-area drivers on average pay 165 percent more than the national average for car insurance, followed by New York, where motorists pay 36 percent more, and Miami, 34 percent more. The least expensive premiums, the website stated, are enjoyed by Charlotte, N.C., where area residents pay 43 percent less than the national average; Cleveland, 31 percent less; and Pittsburgh, 24 percent less.

By Matt Schmitz | September 12, 2014 | Comments (2)

Video: Which Cities Have the Fewest Crashes?

If you want to live in a place where drivers have crashes far less often than the national average, head to Fort Collins, Colo. That's the city where insurance company Allstate says drivers go more than 14 years on average between crashes. If you're in Massachusetts or California, though, watch out; those states have multiple cities on the list of where accidents happen most often. Our own Joe Wiesenfelder explains why.

By Patrick Olsen | September 5, 2014 | Comments (0)

Tesla Selects Nevada for Site of New Battery "Gigafactory"

TeslaModelX

Tesla Motors and the state of Nevada have jointly announced that the company has selected Nevada for the site of its new "Gigafactory," a manufacturing plant that will supposedly supply the electric vehicle automaker with enough batteries to build 500,000 cars annually by 2020. Speculation has been rampant for months about where the site of the new plant would be, ever since Tesla began courting several Southwestern states for tax and construction incentives in exchange for locating the plant in their state.

Related: Glitches Call Reliability of Tesla Model S Into Question

The plant itself will be a joint venture between Tesla and the company's battery supplier Panasonic, which has agreed to produce cylindrical lithium-ion battery cells there, providing machinery and manufacturing equipment while Tesla provides the land, facility and building management. Half of the plant will be used by Panasonic to manufacture lithium-ion cells, the other half of the facility will be used by Tesla's various suppliers to create battery packs and ancillary support systems for the packs.

Tesla maintains that the plant will eventually produce enough battery packs to support the Model S, Model X SUV (concept shown above) and the recently announced smaller Model 3 sedan, Tesla's less expensive, more accessible EV luxury car. The 500,000 claim is a bit staggering as no luxury brand sells nearly that many cars in the U.S., and Tesla has only just begun exploring sales in China. The company claims that the plant will eventually employ 6,600 people, and Nevada is expecting the plant to generate more than $100 billion in economic impact for the state over the next 20 years.

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By Aaron Bragman | September 5, 2014 | Comments (1)

Gas Prices Continue to Fall

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The good news on gas prices is that AAA expects pump prices to continue to fall now that the summer driving season is in the rearview mirror.

The bad news: Gas prices during the summer were the fourth highest on record.

Related: What's the Most Affordable Car in 2014?

The national average for regular unleaded was $3.43 Thursday, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report. That is down only fractions of a penny from a week ago but 7 cents lower than a month ago and 16 cents less than on Sept. 4, 2013.

AAA expects prices nationally could decline another 10-20 cents per gallon by the end of October because gasoline demand generally falls after Labor Day and refineries can produce less-expensive winter-blend gasoline.

By Rick Popely | September 5, 2014 | Comments (4)

Video: Five Tips to Avoid Labor Day Travel Trouble

Amid an improving economy, motorists are hitting the highways again in droves for the three-day Labor Day weekend, with AAA forecasting the greatest number of travelers since 2008. Watch the video above for some road-trip tips from Cars.com's Kelsey Mays to help avoid making your Labor Day getaway a laborious experience.

By Matt Schmitz | August 29, 2014 | Comments (1)

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