U.S. Electric Car Market – 54 Choices Strong

While the U.S. is still the 2nd largest vehicle market (behind China)…Americans probably most known for their thirst for choice. Last year that thirst for choice produced a 25% increase in the number of EV models available to  North American consumers.

Here are the 3 broad categories:

  1. Battery-Powered
  2. Plug-in Hybrid
  3. Fuel Cell Vehicle

The chart below shows the growth and changes in vehicle model mix available in the US and Canada for the past nine years.  U.S. Consumers can now choose from 54 different electric car models, while in 2008, only four were available for purchase.

The number of car models with electric batteries, such as the Tesla Model S, continues to grow. But the biggest increase has been the availability of plug-in hybrid vehicles, which now account for the largest category of electric vehicles in North America.

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Infographic: Electric Vehicle Buyers Have the Agony of Choice | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista


The Agony of Few Choices

At the end of 2010, a meager 6 electric vehicle models (incl. plug-in hybrids and fuel cell vehicles) were available to consumers in North America.

Here’s the latest from Bloomberg New Energy Finance for 2017 year end: 54 electric vehicle models…

  1. 25 battery electric vehicles
  2. 26 plug-in hybrids
  3. 3 fuel cell vehicles

Tesla, one of the very early movers in the market, is still the best-selling EV brand in the United States. In 2017, the company sold roughly 50,000 electric cars in the U.S., beating traditional carmakers like Chevrolet (43,669), Toyota (20,936), BMW (20,733) and Ford (19,589) by a significant margin.

Still accounting for little more than 1 percent of total passenger car sales, electric vehicles still have a long way to go in terms of mass adoption. However, the growing number of consumer choices combined with the steadily improving charging infrastructure will certain help move electric mobility forward.

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St. Patrick’s Day Safe & Sober Driving

Video: Make Sober Driving Your Lucky Charm This St. Patrick’s Day – Cars.com

St. Patrick’s Day is March 17, lasses and lads. For many, it’s a day to don some green garb, eat a Rueben sandwich — and maybe get a weeee bit tipsy drinking green beer.  Beyond turning your teeth weird colors, there are far more serious risks to consider.

St. Patrick’s Day DUI fatalities are nearly double the daily average, with more than 50 in the U.S. Moreover, the holiday falls on a Saturday this year, and instances of drunken driving are already higher on weekends.  Studies have shown that roughly three quarters of fatal St. Patrick’s Day car crashes involve a driver whose blood alcohol content is twice the legal limit of 0.08.

A man of average weight will reach the legal BAC limit after three drinks in an hour; for a woman, it’s two drinks.

Just because you’re under the legal limit doesn’t mean you should assume you’re “OK to drive.” Even one drink can impair a driver’s judgment and reaction times.

Here’s a plan to get through your St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

  • If you plan on drinking, plan on not driving. Designate a sober driver before the revelry kicks off.
  • If you have been drinking, do not drive, even for a short distance. Seriously, you have options: Just call a taxi … or an Uber … or a Lyft … or take public transportation; many cities have ride programs available.
  • Look out for others. If you see someone about to drive while impaired, confiscate their keys and help them arrange a safe way home.
  • If you see a driver on the road who appears to be intoxicated, pull over to a safe location and notify police. You could be saving someone’s life.

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St. Patrick’s Day DUI Patrols Planned In Sonoma County – Patch

“Police, sheriff and the CHP will be looking for signs of alcohol and/or drug impairment,” Santa Rosa police stated in a news release.

The California Highway Patrol, the Santa Rosa Police Department and the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office are among law enforcement agencies planning to be on the lookout for drunk and/or drugged drivers this St. Patrick’s Day weekend in the county.

From 7 p.m. Saturday to 3 a.m. Sunday, Santa Rosa police will deploy additional officers on special DUI saturation patrols specifically to stop and arrest drivers showing signs of alcohol or drug impairment.

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St. Patrick’s Day DUI Patrols Planned by La Mesa and Chula Vista Police – TimesOfSanDiego

The La Mesa and Chula Vista police departments plan DUI saturation patrols throughout the St. Patrick’s Day weekend beginning Friday evening.

Both departments announced extra patrols from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. the next morning on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most popular holidays in the United States…heavily celebrated by most Americans with friendly pinches, bangers n’ mash, and green beer galore,” said La Mesa Police Chief Walt Vasquez. “Sadly, all this merry-making can lead to dangerous driving conditions as party-goers head

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Consumer Reports Most Reliable Car Brands of 2018 & Decade

Consumer Reports seems almost synonymous with trust.  Still, almost like a football team, everyone seems to have a favorite car brand…and their own idea of what makes a reliable vehicle. For some, a car that starts every morning and just needs basic repairs every year will do. Drivers expect more out of expensive vehicles known for rapid-fire acceleration or high-performance towing. Then there are those who say a vehicle’s not reliable unless it tops 200,000 miles.

For the nonprofit organization Consumer Reports, the most reliable vehicles must pass (or ace) 17 different tests. Even if an automobile runs like a dream, testers will knock it down a few pegs if the electronics system is hard to use or the interior scratches easily. Likewise, a vehicle’s owners report problems they experienced every year, which factors into the equation.

In other words, getting a top reliability rating from Consumer Reports takes some doing. Those that land the top scores a few consecutive years deserve the fans and buyers they get.

Uncanny, but some automobiles seem to manage to post near-perfect scores for many years in a row.  Here is the beginning of the top performing brands since 2010…starting with the 2018 Nissan Leaf.  You’ve gotta click through to see the entire list of 20 most reliable vehicles of the decade.

Nissan Leaf #20 – Among electric cars, Leaf’s 4 perfect reliability scores in 5 years stand above the pack.

elegant driveway view of white 2018 Nissan Leaf

While Tesla has mixed reviews for reliability, Nissan Leaf proved long ago that electric vehicles could stay on the road with the best of them. The first-generation Leaf landed the top Consumer Reports rating for four of its first five years on the market from 2011 to 2016. As the new-for-2018 model makes its way to the market, it also comes with above-average predicted reliability.

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Bollinger B1 Electric Truck to Beat Tesla?

So far, electric vehicles (EVs) have tended toward high-tech, high speed electronic capsules that almost substitute for your office or a day at the spa.  But what about the needs of people outside of urban areas or downright rural areas that have more utilitarian needs…something along the lines of a low-maintenance workhorse that doesn’t need a saddle or a hay and water trough.

Bollinger Motors recently announced “the world’s first fully electric sport utility truck”…the Bollinger B1…a highly practical pickup truck that traverses the roughest terrain…with zero carbon footprint.  A totally USA centric vehicle that’s designed, engineered and, one day soon, built right here in the United States.

Built on a…

… aluminum chassis that weighs just 295 pounds and incorporates the complete powertrain system as well as off-road suspension. It sports a wheelbase of 105 inches, front and rear tracks of 68 inches, an approach angle of 56 degrees, departure angle of 53 degrees, and break over angle of 33 degrees.

Want more specs?

The bad news:

  1. You can’t get one till “early 2018” says Bollinger
  2. Pricing is “to be determined” …and only then will..
  3. $1,000 deposits accepted in early 2018
  4. Once a production site is nailed down, deliveries could commence in 19 months.

The good news:

  1. 0-60 mph time is about 4.5 seconds and
  2. Top speed is 127 mph
  3. The B1 qualifies as a Class 3 commercial truck which considerably reduces regulatory requirements compared to vehicles intended purely for passenger use.
  4. Bollinger hopes to beat Tesla to market with an EV sport utility vehicle


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Honda’s New Safe Driving Technology: Safe Swarm

Ever watch a documentary on sea life that showed schools of smaller fish swimming in unison?  Honda has…and they’ve invented a new safe driving technology based on that “bio-mimicry” concept that may one day affect the way vehicles communicate and interact on the highway.  Unveiled at the 2017 CES show…it’s called Safe Swarm and uses vehicle-to-vehicle communication to help human drivers.

The Safe Swarm concept basically takes information received by one vehicle equipped with the technology…and passes it on to others close by (also equipped)…allowing vehicle reactions way before a human driver would be able to react on his own.  So, for example, the same bit of information can actually be propagated in almost real-time to following cars…miles behind, potentially…so drivers have ample reaction time to avoid problems and collisions.

To be fair…similar technology is being developed by other car companies.  And though this tech will probably not manifest in vehicles produced within the next year or two…it highlights how big of a concept connectivity between vehicles as a safety feature…will be in the near future.

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All Pro Towing & Recovery Celebrates Small Business Saturday 11/26/16

The Small Business Saturday Story

  • 2010 – Day One –  The first-ever Small Business Saturday took place on Nov 27.  It encouraged people across the country to support small, local businesses.
  • 2011 – The Day Became Official – The United States Senate unanimously passed a resolution of support for Small Business Saturday.
  • 2012 – EVERY STATE IN THE UNION – From Washington D.C., to Washington State, governors, mayors, and even President Obama championed Small Business Saturday.
  • 2013 – Neighborhoods Celebrated The Day – The day continued to grow, with more individuals and local organizations pledging to support the day as Neighborhood Champions.
  • 2014 – SMALL BUSINESSES OWNED THE DAY – American Express encouraged small business owners to take charge of the day, helping them promote their businesses with free personalized ads, which appeared millions of times across the web.
  • 2015 – ONE FOR THE BOOKS – Shoppers supported their neighborhood businesses like never before, continuing to embrace the day as a holiday shopping tradition.

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Car Hackers Bottom Line: Cash, Not Wrecks

If you’re even a vague car enthusiast, headlines like these may be becoming a bit too familiar…and putting you on edge…especially if you own a newer vehicle with any kind of autonomous driving features or vehicle-to-vehicle communications that are becoming the norm with connected vehicles.

Oh, crap: hackers find new ways to override Jeep, Tesla software
Chinese hackers control Tesla brakes, lights from 12 miles away
Latest worry for Volkswagen owners: Wireless hack can unlock millions of Audis, Porsches, VWs

Who wouldn’t be concerned while watching videos (like below) of the steering and braking functions of various vehicles being taken control of by invisible strangers.


But taking control of a vehicles driving functions are not only extremely difficult…they have little to no financial incentive.

“Attackers will try to find exploits that provide a financial incentive, and it seems that safety-critical attacks don’t provide any obvious monetary return,” Andre Weimerskirch – VP Cybersecurity – Lear Corp.

Much more likely hacker activities, according to Weimerskirch, are money motivated things like:

  • Stealing the Vehicle – by remotely unlocking it.
  • Ransom – instead of stealing it outright…taking temporary control in exchange for a cash payment to regain control.
  • Hack into Vehicle Connected Cellphones – to steal credit card information, or use location data and apps to break into the driver’s home.

By 2020, about  55 percent of all new vehicles will be connected to a network like OnStar or Uconnect…according to the IIHS.  Older vehicles already have aftermarket solutions that will make the total of all the cars worldwide with some level of connectivity…at roughly 50 percent by then.  That ability for connected cars to “talk” to each other is what creates vulnerability to hackers.  It’s a sophisticated potential threat that vehicle owners have virtually no control over…responsibility resting almost exclusively with car makers.  But unfortunately, only about 40 percent of car companies have cybersecurity units dedicated to the problem…according to a survey conducted by McKinsey & Co.

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Red-light Cameras Save Lives…Hundreds Annually

Ever received a traffic citation in the mail with a photo that shows your car running a red light?  Suddenly finding out that you need to pay a fine is probably never a nice surprise…but if you live in one of the almost 500 US cities that utilize red-light cameras that that automatically doll out tickets for violators…a new study just might make you a bit more grateful.

The effects of red-light camera programs have been hotly debated since they began in many municipalities years ago. For the first time, we’re learning that they’re actually saving lives…measurably.


The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently reviewed what results when cities that formerly used red-light photo enforced traffic cameras…and, for whatever reason…decided to terminate their program (click this map to check if your city uses red-light cameras. Spoiler Alert: Gilroy has two [2]).  Each of the cities studied had populations greater than 200,000 people…so there’s a statistically sound basis for legitimacy of the study’s results.

The IIHS study was done in two separate parts from differing perspectives:

  • Part 1:  57 cities that started and continued programs from 1992 to 2014 were compared with 33 cities that don’t have any.  Ultimately…cities with red-light cameras had 21 percent fewer deaths related to collisions with red light runners and 14 percent fewer deaths from other crashes than cities without cameras.
  • Part 2:  14 cities were reviewed that ended their red-light camera programs between the years 2010 and 2014.  Those 14 cities were then compared with 29 others that had similar populations and regions.

The bottom line: terminating the red-light camera programs resulted in a 30 percent increase in deaths due to crashes with red-light runners and a 16 percent increase in deaths from other types of collisions.

“Debates over automated enforcement often center on the hassle of getting a ticket and paying a fine. It’s important to remember that there are hundreds of people walking around who wouldn’t be here if not for red light cameras.” ~ Adrian Lund – IIHS President

But, for the sake of equality…here’s a video that considers the opposing view:


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Hidden Dangers for Drivers Using New Hands-free Tech

Think you’ve got it all under control while using in-car hands free technologies?  While driving, how often to you use voice commands to?:

  1. Dial your cell phone?
  2. Play or change music being played?
  3. Create & send Text Messages?

Research from the the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety proves that Mental Distraction from the above activities can linger and impair your focus and reaction times…for as long as 27 seconds AFTER you’ve seemingly completed each task…each and every time you engage one of these tasks.  Cognitive Distraction…the scientific term, impacts driving performance…even if your eyes are on the road…and your hands are on the wheel…as a result of using hands-free technologies in your vehicle.

“The lasting effects of mental distraction pose a hidden and pervasive danger that would likely come as a surprise to most drivers…The results indicate that motorists could miss stop signs, pedestrians and other vehicles while the mind is readjusting to the task of driving.” ~ Peter Kissinger – President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

Ten vehicles from model year 2015…and three (3) different brands of smart phones were compared in the AAA study. The bottom line: ALL systems studied were found to increase mental distraction to potentially unsafe levels.  A 5-point scale was utilized by researchers to quantify the level of distraction.  A rating of two (2) or more on the 5-point scale is considered potentially dangerous when driving.

“The massive increase in voice-activated technologies in cars and phones represents a growing safety problem for drivers,” … “We are concerned that these new systems may invite driver distraction, even as overwhelming scientific evidence concludes that hands-free is not risk free.” ~ Marshall Doney – AAA’s President & CEO

Previous AAA Foundation research established that a category 1 mental distraction is about the same as listening to the radio or an audio book. A category 2 distraction is about the same as talking on the phone, while category 3 is equivalent to sending voice-activated texts on a perfect, error-free system. Category 4 is similar to updating social media while driving, while category 5 corresponds to a highly-challenging, scientific test designed to overload a driver’s attention.

“Developers should aim to reduce mental distractions by designing systems that are no more demanding than listening to the radio or an audiobook,” continued Doney. “Given that the impairing effects of distraction may last much longer than people realize, AAA advises consumers to use caution when interacting with these technologies while behind the wheel.”

Dr. David Strayer and Dr. Joel Cooper of the University of Utah conducted the research. A total of 257 drivers ages 21-70 participated in the study of 2015 model-year vehicles, while 65 additional drivers ages 21-68 tested the three phone systems.

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Top 10 Priciest Vehicles to Get Insured

Let’s work this Top 10 List…Letterman style…and kill you with suspense:

10. Porsche 911 Carrera GT3 RS – The second of two Porsches on this list…this one coming in at a cool $3,212 per year to insure.

9. Audi RS7 Quattro Prestige – average cost at about $3,229 per year to insure. Believe it or not…this is the only Audi on this list. Drivers should note that letting your teen drive your car can dramatically raise rates: A survey by InsuranceQuotes.com found that adding a 16-year-old to the average married couple’s insurance nearly doubles the cost. And letting them drive a sports car might drive that cost even higher.

8. Land Rover Range Rover SV Autobiography Black LWB – hitting approximately $3,245 to insure annually…some savvy drivers recommend buying insurance at opportune times of the year. In fact…an InsuranceQuotes.com survey says that nationwide, car insurance varies by about 7.5% depending on what month you buy it in. December tends to be the cheapest month to buy insurance, while March is the most expensive.

7. BMW M6 Gran Coupe – While being the only BMW in the top 10, costing $3,309 to insure. Another discount strategy that drivers should also ask about is a more obscure one…discounts for those drive significantly fewer miles…or long time highly loyal customers of the insurance company for a long time…and those who own a home or who have a college degree or even higher education credentials.

6. Nissan GT-R Nismo – Appealing to the younger, sportier crowd…the Nismo averages about $3,476 a year to insure. Some of the more common car insurance discounts to ask about include: lowered rates for students who do well in school, people who have a home insurance policy with the same company, pay the entire bill upfront, are married and take a driver training course.

5. Porsche Panamera S Executive – As you might expect…the Porsche Panamera is one of two (2) models appearing on this list…commanding a cool $3,484 on average per year to insure. Many experts say that prudent drivers should get at least three insurance quotes from different companies (you can go on sites like CarInsurance.com, Insure.com and BestQuotes.com to do this) before selecting the best policy for the least cost.

…Want to see the remaining top 4?

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