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The Two Wheeled Revolution

Most everyone has heard about the growing number of electric cars. But how many realize that there is also a two wheeled electric revolution going on as well? From full-sized motorcycles, to scooters of all shapes and sizes, two wheeled transportation is changing just as fast as the four wheeled kind.

There are a number of new companies such as Zero, Alta and Enegica making and selling electric motorcycles today. Several of the traditional motorcycle manufactures are also saying that they plan on getting into the field. Harley Davidson, Indian and Victory all claim to be working on electric motorcycles. Some of the current and planned offerings are very competitive with traditional gas powered motorcycles. The Lightning LS-218 is reported to have 200 brake horsepower and 168 lb/ft of torque. That is enough to give it a zero to 60 mph time of 2 seconds and a 218 mph top speed!  There is even an offroad/motocross bike from Alta; the Redshift SM.

Electric scooters abound as well. Vespa, Bolt Mobility and Gogoro (and many others) are selling street legal electric scooters around the world. Again many are very competitive with their gas powered counterparts, both in terms of price and performance. A company called Scutum is even making a model, marketed to police departments; that can carry up to 390 pounds. One California startup (genze) is developing both an electric scooter and an electric bicycle.

In a unique synthesis of electric transportation and ride-hailing, several companies are experimenting with basic electric scooters (think of a child’s foot powered scooter with an electric motor and battery pack) that people can easily rent to go short distances in major urban areas. E-scooter rental is viewed by some as a “last mile” solution to get people from mass transit hubs to their ultimate destination, and by others as a lower polluting alternative to using Uber or Lyft to get around in the city.

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Yes/No Line Type Added

We recently added the ability to include lines with Yes/No options to give you more flexibility when creating templates. This means you can have lines using your standard ratings, as well as, have lines that include Yes/No as options in the same template. This is helpful in cases where you are documenting information as part of your inspection that doesn’t need the grading scale offered by ratings.

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Subscription Based Car Rental

We have been exploring how the concept of personal transportation is changing. Car subscriptions is a trend that seems to have sprung up from nowhere. But, you know something is becoming main stream when it makes the national television network morning news shows. As reported on at least one morning news show recently, a number of different companies, including manufacturers, dealers and others are now offering car subscription services. Now you can change your car as easily as you change your wardrobe.

Most of these plans work in a similar way. For a fixed fee (usually per month) you can drive a car of your choosing (within limits), and at the end of the period choose to keep driving it, or switch to something else. Drive an SUV for the winter and a convertible for the summer. Some subscriptions allow a switch as often as every two weeks, while others are almost lease-like in that you are committed for a full year. Most include the cost of insurance and repairs in the monthly fee. Some even include roadside assistance and/or regular maintenance items in the basic fee.

Subscription plans are typically going to be more expensive than just buying or leasing, but it is hard to beat the convenience and fun factors of being able to drive a different car every month or so. Plans range from a few hundred dollars a month to over $3,500/month for some high end luxury brands. Depending on the company there may be limits on the vehicles available. Obviously, a major manufacturer is only going to rent you vehicles from their brand(s). Also, not all options involve new cars. Some plans rent off-lease cars that may be 3 or 4 model years old. There is even a company that offers an all-electric fleet made up of the Nissan Leaf, Fiat 500e, BMW i3, Volkswagen eGolf, and the Tesla Model S.

Subscription car services are mostly still in the pilot stage and available in only selected areas. While this whole concept is likely a somewhat desperate gambit by manufacturers and dealers to combat shrinking car sales; if you are the kind of car enthusiast who always dreamed of being able to regularly have something new to drive, this may be just the thing you were looking for.

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VIN Scanner

The InspectARide app includes a VIN scanner that makes it fast and easy to scan a vehicle’s VIN and then decode it. If you’re doing any type of vehicle inspection and manually writing or typing VINs then this feature alone will save you a significant amount of time and hassle.

All you have to is tap the ‘Scan’ icon and use your phone or tablet’s camera to scan the VIN. Once the VIN is scanned, you can decode it with the tap of one button and it will populate the key information about the vehicle such as the Year, Make, Model, etc.

If you haven’t checked out the app then setup a free 7 day trial here and go to the Google Play Store/Apple App Store on your phone or tablet to download the app by searching for ‘InspectARide’.

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Mobility Revolution

The mobility revolution is coming! A complex mix of technological and cultural forces are about to radically reshape personal transportation as we know it.

Technological advances affecting this area include:

  • Advances in autonomous, or self-driving, cars and trucks
  • Electric vehicles that now compete with gasoline powered vehicles in terms of range and performance
  • Communications and data processing infrastructure that now allow for V2G (Vehicle to Grid) and V2X (vehicle to everything) interactions
  • The integration of the internet and “data” into every aspect of our life (including in the car)

Cultural changes include:

  • The rise of car sharing, ride sharing and other new forms of “ownership”
  • The attitude of Millennials towards driving and car ownership
  • Rising concern for climate change caused by burning fossil fuels and for the amount of natural resources consumed in the creation and operation of personal vehicles
  • All of these forces and more are pushing auto makers, planners and public officials to rethink personal transportation. While this transformation has been predicted for some time (think back to the 1950’s vision of transportation in “the future”); the forces now seem aligned to finally bring about truly revolutionary changes.

We will explore some of the above forces in future blog posts. So stay tuned for more.

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Early Electric Car Facts

Electric cars have been around much longer than most people realize. Below are 5 facts about the early days of electric cars:

  • Electric car models appeared as early as 1828 when a Hungarian inventor named Ányos Jedlik invented an electric motor and then a small model car powered by this motor.
  • French physicist Gaston Planté invented the lead-acid battery in 1859 which made rechargeable batteries for use in a vehicle viable for the first time.
  • Around 1890 the first US electric car was created by chemist William Morrison. It’s top speed was 14 mph.
  • By 1900, electric cars accounted for about a third of all the vehicles on the road.
  • Several factors contributed to the decline in popularity of electric cars in the 1910s/1920s including:
    • Improved roads/infrastructure made the range limitations of electric vehicles an issue
    • The discovery of large oil reserves around the world made gasoline cheaper
    • The mass production of gas-powered vehicles (by Ford) drove the price of these vehicles down which made electric vehicle much less affordable compared to their gas-powered counterparts.
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Vehicle Technology Articles

Technology in vehicles has changing rapidly the past few years and the rate of change doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. With improvements in safety, automation and connectivity, there is a lot to look forward to moving forward. We did a quick search online to find some articles that talk about what’s coming and below is a list of the some of the more interesting ones.

This article talks about the top 10 new car technologies: http://www.latimes.com/business/autos/la-hy-tech.pg-photogallery.html

This article has the specs for the best high tech cars of 2017: https://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2477057,00.asp

This article talks about how legislation is advancing to pave the way for more self driving cars: http://www.roadandtrack.com/new-cars/car-technology/a12199288/us-house-passes-self-driving-car-bill/

This article talks about how a VW new engine makes car more efficient: http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/technology/a28287/volkswagen-budack-cycle-explained/

This article talks about Tesla bringing superchargers to major cities which will make electric cars more feasible for more people: http://www.roadandtrack.com/new-cars/car-technology/a12254015/tesla-supercharger-ev-charging-stations-boston-chicago/

This article was written at the end of 2016 and talked about the car technology trends to follow in 2017: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2016/12/12/six-hot-car-technology-trends-watch-2017/95323726/

This article talks about the car tech features you should look to get with your next vehicle: http://www.businessinsider.com/best-tech-features-in-new-cars-2017-3/ 

This article talks about a ‘magic self’-healing’ film that protects cars from scratches: http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/technology/a28090/how-this-magical-self-healing-film-protects-cars-from-scratches/

This article has 10 breakthrough new-car features coming in 2018: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimgorzelany/2017/08/25/10-breakthrough-new-car-features-coming-for-2018/#7bf4735c4338

What new technology are you looking forward to the most?

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Early History of Pickup Trucks

Pickup trucks have been around for over a 100 years. Initially, they were purchased almost exclusively for function, however, starting in the 1950s consumers began purchasing them for lifestyle purposes as well. Below we’ll take a look at a few of the early pickup trucks to hit the market.

Mid 1910s – At the request of the US Government, Dodge agreed to supply 20,000 vehicles (including trucks) to the US military during World War I. After the war, Dodge converted the military trucks to a commercial vehicle. In 1921, Dodge made an arrangement with the Graham Brothers where the Graham Brothers would manufacturer trucks using Dodge parts that would then be sold through Dodge dealers.

1918 – The Chevrolet 490 was introduced in 1915 and was named the 490 because it cost $490. In 1918 there was a model that came with a frame only, that allowed consumers to purchase the cab, bed and body separately. The ‘pickups’ were rated at a half-ton.

1925 – In 1925 Ford introduced the Ford Model T Runabout with Pickup Body. It included an all steel bed that was 56 inches long, 40 inches wide and 13 inches high. Over 33,000 of this model were sold and the model was improved and sold in both 1926 and 1927 before production stopped on the Model T.

1935 – Toyoda (later Toyota) produced the G1 pickup truck. This truck used the same engine (and a slightly elongated chassis) as their A1 passenger vehicle.

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Exterior Car Lights Facts

Below is a list of some of the exterior lights found on a car and an interesting fact about each one.

Headlights – The first lights in cars were fueled lamps. Electric headlights first started being used around 1900 and in 1904 Peerless became the first manufacturer to include them as standard.

Tail Lights – There are several theories about why these are red which include: red is easier to see then other colors and that red stood for ‘stop’ with railroads so it was natural to continue that with cars.

Daytime Running Lights – These lights were first mandated in Scandinavian countries due to the dark winter season.

Fog Lights – These were patented by Bosch in 1930 and at first it was as simple as having a headlight attached to the front bumper angled so that it was shining on the ground right in front of the vehicle.

Turn Signal Lights – These first appeared as early as 1907 and the modern flashing turn signal was patented in 1938. Shortly after this, automakers began making these standard on cars.

Brake Lights – The first brake lamps appeared around 1905. Since most early cars didn’t have them drivers would often use hand signals to communicate when they were turning. This posed many challenges (especially at night) and by 1928 11 states had passed legislation requiring cars to be built with brake lights.