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Sent to over 30,000 recipients every weekday morning, FirstUp conveys the day's auto-related news quickly, concisely, and accurately. Topics covered in FirstUp range from new vehicle releases, to the latest legislation concerning the auto industry. This is news designed with you in mind.
December 5, 2013
Americans Are Driving Less and It's Not Solely Due to Economy, Report Says
A new report offers more evidence that people are driving less. The analysis of data from the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, and the Census Bureau shows that the decline in per-capita driving is occurring in a wide variety of regions. The new analysis, by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, is the first city-level look at Americans' driving patterns. It reviewed miles-driven data for the nation's 100 most populous urban areas — home to more than half of the nation's population — and found that the average number of miles driven per resident fell in nearly three-quarters of the cities where up-to-date and accurate data were available. The drop occurred in 54 of the 74 cities with good data. According to The Detroit Free Press, the report concludes that the average American drives 7.6 percent fewer miles today than in 2004, when per-capita driving peaked. The analysis also found that most urban areas saw increases in public transit use and in bicycle commuting. The proportion of residents bicycling to work increased in 85 of 100 cities between 2000 and the end of the decade. For more on the decrease in American driving, click here.
Average New-Vehicle Mileage Up 24.8 MPG
Automotive News reports that the average fuel economy of new U.S. trucks, cars, SUVs, and vans sold in November rose in 0.1 mpg from October, to 24.8 mpg, according to a monthly report from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. The average fuel economy of new vehicles sold in the United States is up 4.7 mpg since the researchers began collecting data in October 2007. Average sales-weighted fuel economy was calculated from the monthly sales of individual models and the combined city-highway fuel economy ratings from the EPA Fuel Economy Guide for each model. The institute’s national Eco-Driving Index, which calculates the monthly greenhouse gas emissions from a U.S. driver who bought a new vehicle during the month, held steady at 0.80 for the fifth consecutive month in September. A lower index score is better, and the scores are compared with a base score of 1 in October 2007, when the researchers began collecting data. “This value indicates an improvement of 20 percent since October 2007,” researcher Michael Sivak said in a statement. “The EDI takes into account both the fuel used per distance driven and the amount of driving.” Click here for more on rising fuel economy.
Luxury Automakers Charge Into Growing Electric Market
With eco-friendly cars taking center stage at the 2013 L.A. Auto Show, The Detroit News reports that it was no surprise luxury carmakers wanted to tout their stuff too. And not just far-off concepts drivers will need to wait years for, either. BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Cadillac each brought production-ready fully electric or plug-in hybrid models. It’s not hard to see why they chose to do this at the Los Angeles show. In 2012, California accounted for 40 percent of new electric vehicle sales in the U.S., says IHS Automotive, based on Polk new vehicle registrations. Although electric cars still make up a tiny fraction of the overall market, Oliver Hazimeh, a consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, says that EV and plug-in hybrid ownership is catching on at a faster rate than hybrids did when they were introduced in 2000. Their market share will more than quadruple by 2020, to around 5 percent of vehicle sales in the U.S., Hazimeh said. With this in mind, the Los Angeles Times hopped into the BMW i3, Mercedes-Benz B-Class and Cadillac ELR for brief drives. Click here to see what reviewers thought and to learn more about luxury EVs hitting dealerships soon.
Will Congress Drive Up Gas Taxes In 2014?
If some members of Congress get their way, you’ll be paying a whole lot more at the pump, reports Forbes. With Congress facing a major shortfall in transportation funding next year, Congress is eying a boost in the federal gas tax to make up the difference. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) announced a proposal, H.R. 3636, also called The Update, Promote, and Develop America’s Transportation Essentials (UPDATE) Act, that would phase in a 15 cent/gallon tax increase over the next three years on gasoline and diesel. With the proposal, the federal tax would increase to 33.4 cents per gallon on gas and to 42.8 cents per gallon on diesel. The current federal gas tax stands at 18.4 cents per gallon and has not been increased in nearly 20 years. Blumenauer says, that means that taking into consideration inflation and increased fuel efficiency for vehicles: “The average motorist is paying about half as much per mile as they did in 1993.” That, Blumenauer believes, needs to change. A few years ago, the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) announced that over $70.9 billion worth of repairs were needed to maintain safe infrastructure. For more on a potential gas tax hike, click here.
10 Best Used Car Deals This Year
Used cars are so 2008. The financial-market meltdown five years ago tanked new car sales. Back then, if you couldn’t postpone buying a car, used was the frugal choice. But now that the U.S. economy has slowly but steadily improved, shiny new cars are once again zooming off dealers’ lots. “The new car market has hit its stride,” says Joe Spina, director of used car analysis at auto-market research firm Edmunds.com. “Buyers are no longer drawn to used cars the way they have been.” But don’t ignore the used-car lot altogether. Growing demand for new cars means there are more trade-ins available at better prices. Used-car prices are at their lowest in four years, according to Edmunds.com. Buyers drove off with a used car for $15,617, on average, in the third quarter of 2013, spending 2.8 percent less than in the previous quarter. The last time used cars were so cheap was in the third quarter of 2009, when they cost $14,808 on average. According to MarketWatch, the current supply of used cars is large and demand is soft. Click here to see 10 of the top used cars from the 2010 model year that have seen prices fall the most in 2013.
Carfax Reports Help Dealers Drive More Conversions
According to a new independent study by Dataium, dealers using Carfax on the Internet engage more visitors and improve lead conversions on their website. Commissioned by Carfax, the findings from the study revealed that online shoppers spend nearly twice as long on a dealer’s website, are five times more likely to submit a lead, and also are twice as likely to look at cars when the dealer provides Carfax® Vehicle History Reports™. “Most of our customers start shopping online, so building their confidence in us and our cars on the Internet is critical,” said Bennett Boothe, digital sales and marketing director at Moreland Auto Group in Colorado. “We noticed the cars we listed with a Carfax Report were getting more traffic and more sales. Now we make sure a Carfax Report is included with all our cars. It’s a big key to our online success.” Bill Eager, vice president of Carfax said,“Our partnership with dealers goes well beyond providing vehicle history information. We help give online shoppers more confidence to become on-the-lot buyers.”
Around the Web
2015 Hyundai Genesis Shown in New Viceos [MotorAuthority]
Porsche Goes Platinum with Special Edition Cayenne [Autoblog]
Amazon to Look Into Deliveries by Self-Driving Car [TechCrunch]
Bentley Not Backing Down From Luxury SUV [CNN Money]