Astons, Maseratis & Porsches — Oh My! Our Picks at the NY Auto Show (Opening Today)

We took a spin down from Boston to check out the New York International Auto Show press days.  Here’s a peek at some of our favorite wheels. … 

Just when you thought the Swedes were neutral, check out this sinister looking Koenigsegg.

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Here’s to ignoring unwelcome advice!     

Ferruccio Lamborghini went into business building tractors from surplus WWII military hardware, growing his business into a big, successful one. He once complained to Enzo Ferrari that he should put a better clutch in his cars, and Ferrari curtly advised Lamborghini to stick to making tractors. In 1963, Lamborghini founded Automobili Ferruccio Lamborghini S.p.A, and the rest is history. 

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When you’re done checking out this Lotus, look at the logo behind it (not Volvo’s), and here’s a little trivia: The four letters in the middle of the logo stand for the initials of company founder, Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman. Don’t believe us? Wiki it!

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A Bugatti ranges in price from $1-2 million, and if you’re lucky enough to ever own one, please, please, please don’t do this.  If you ever want to hear and see these cars driving in the wild, head out to Monterey, CA around the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance sometime, and you’ll see them (and their owners), along with loads of other glorious new and classic cars, in abundance.

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Check out this Caddy Elmiraj concept. We love the name, love the look, and it reminds us of the meanacing Rolls Royce Wraith. If Cadillac chooses to bring it to market, it’ll certainly be a more affordable set of wheels.

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Here’s the BMW M4.  It looked smaller than expected in person, but we wouldn’t kick this 431hp beast out of our garage.

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Here are a couple of Mercedes’ AMGs — the new CLA 45 (red) has the most powerful turbocharged four-cylinder engine in series production anywhere in the world. The CLS 63 has a naturally aspirated V8 with an unmistakably gutteral exhaust note.  Both of these cars, like all AMGs, have engines hand-built by a single person (who then affixes a plaque with his signature on it) in Affelterbach, Germany.  

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We find Range Rovers irresistible, with all the luxurious, industrial qualities of a Wolf stove.  But much faster.  Faced with a choice, we’d pick the Range (Rover).

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Alfa Romeo is back, and while the 4C’s 237hp, 258 lb-ft of torque may not be the biggest numbers, this car has the critical weight-to-power ratio in spades: only 10lbs/hp.  Let’s go, or shall we say: Andiamo!

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Across the aisle from the 4C, an even more enticing Italian: the Maserati GranTurismo C MC.  The name isn’t very catchy, so they’ve got this badge on the dash, comfortably nestled between carbon fiber, leather and blue contrast stitching to match the stunning blue exterior.  We gave this car a lot of love, and it might have been the first one we’d driven off the stand, if given the chance. Hope you enjoy it, too.

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And now for something completely different: Toyota’s i-Road, an electric “personal mobility vehicle.”  

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Over at Porsche, they displayed the 918 Spyder. Sorry Prius, but hybrid never looked so good.

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Where to put your targa top? Pop it in front, of course!

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Clearly we’re partial — here’s more Porsche love:

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This Jaguar F Type coupe is looking pretty fierce, and the yellow brake calipers look great with the red paint color.

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Over to Bentley and its orange GT Speed Convertible. Did you know Bentley is the world’s largest manufacturer of 12-cylinder engines? Now you do.

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In its press conference, Bentley announced it will return to racing, in the Pirelli World Challenge, with its GT3 race car, shown here:

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Across the aisle, another brilliant English brand, Aston Martin. This Vantage GT made headlines for having a sub-$100,000 price tag. So you’re all going to head out and get one now, right?

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We think the yellow trim around the grill looks like a smile.  

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… As Annie once sang, “You’re Never Fully Dressed without a Smile,” and now driving this Aston may count.

With that, we send you off to have a great weekend.  

The NY Auto Show opens to the public today through April 27.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said, ‘faster horses.’

Mark Fields, Ford's Chief Operating Officer, opened the New York Auto Show press days with a keynote speech, sharing this old Henry Ford quote.

In addition to the above, Fields said, “The most successful among us will fully anticipate consumers’ spoken wants and even more importantly their unspoken future needs. As we do all of this, the reward is not only massive business growth, but the chance to change the world.”

Press Release — We’re Recognized in Global Analysts’ Report!

Openbay Selected By Gartner as a ‘Cool Vendor’

Annual Analyst Report Recognizes Global Automotive Innovators

CAMBRIDGE, MA, April 16, 2014 – Openbay – an online and mobile marketplace for consumers to find, book and pay for local auto repair and maintenance services – was evaluated, among three other companies, in Gartner’s April 9, 2014 “Cool Vendors in Automotive, 2014” report.

“We believe it’s a privilege to be recognized by Gartner as an innovator in the automotive industry, where we’ve managed to disrupt conventional methods of cross-shopping for vehicle repair,” said Rob Infantino, Openbay’s founder and CEO. “Since launching nationally in October 2013, nearly half of Openbay’s users’ service requests originated on mobile devices. Customers are eager to make informed decisions, and we’ve enabled them to do so quickly.”  The average time between when a vehicle owner submits a request through Openbay and then books the service is only three days.

“Our web and mobile app take the hassle out of getting vehicles serviced,” said Infantino. Consumers tell us their vehicles’ needs or problem and we do the heavy lifting; Openbay gets offers from local shops, provides customer reviews, sets appointments and processes payment.” Openbay even maintains an easily accessible online record of all services completed on the vehicle, so there’s never any confusion about its maintenance history.

About Openbay

Openbay is a web and mobile app that is transforming the way consumers repair and maintain their vehicles and the way automotive service professionals transact business with consumers online. The company is headquartered in Cambridge, Mass. and is privately held. Openbay’s investors include Google Ventures, a16z seed, Boston Seed Capital, Stage 1 Ventures and several individual investors.

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Disclaimer:
Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

Are Vehicle Alarm & Security Systems Worth It?

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Between 2010-2012, America’s most stolen vehicles were all pickup trucks and SUVs, according to CNN Money.

Vehicle security systems come in all shapes and price ranges. You can get a car alarm that will go off if someone opens the door or breaks a window, or you can spring for the kind of alarm that will send out a loud scream to everyone within earshot at the mere detection of motion. There are security systems that include keyless entry, remote start, and even GPS-enabled tracking software to help the police locate it if it’s stolen. How do you know which – if any – is right for you? Here’s some advice to help you determine that.

The Average Cost of a Car Alarm

As you can imagine, the cost of a car security system can vary greatly depending on the technology used and the labor involved. Assuming that you’re going to have someone else professionally install it, you can expect to pay anywhere between $50 and $1500. That’s a wide price range, but it all depends on the kind of setup you choose. Basic car alarms that can be turned on and off by keychain remote average on the low end, while high-tech security systems that are capable of disabling your car’s engine and sending out a call to the police can cost you a pretty penny. Check out this recently published chart which provides a comparison of some of the most popular mid-range car alarm security systems.

Car Alarms: Worth the Cost?

The true value of a car security system depends on a lot of things. Namely, the book value of your car. If you’re driving around a 15-year-old beater that’s not worth much, sinking a few hundred dollars into an anti-theft alarm could be overkill. That all changes if you own a $75,000 car and suddenly become the envy of every potential car thief in the city. A solid insurance policy will cover you for theft, but having a security system installed can also lower your premium significantly because it makes you less of a risk in the eyes of your insurance provider.

Where you live can also play an important role in deciding if a car alarm is an absolute necessity or a superfluous expense. Auto theft rates are significantly higher in more densely populated areas than they are in lightly populated areas. This doesn’t mean car theft doesn’t happen everywhere, it just means it’s statistically less likely to happen if you live in a remote area. You can check car theft statistics for your area by reading the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s report which identifies the “hottest spots” by state. Always exercise common sense to protect your vehicle from theft. For some more tips, check out this educational video from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The Effectiveness of Car Alarms

Depending whom you talk to, car alarms are either an effective deterrent or a complete waste of money. The reality is, a motivated individual with all the right skills can disable the average car alarm in seconds. But this doesn’t mean it’s not a deterrent. In this ABC News report, an ex-car thief reveals that kill switches and alarms are among some of the chief deterrents to auto theft, so having an operational alarm can be enough to give a would-be car thief reason to bug off and leave you alone. In that case, it’s certainly money well spent.

Photo Credit: Media.Ford.com

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Optimize Gas Mileage for Spring and Summer Cruising

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Summer’s coming, and that means two things: road trip opportunities and high gas prices. According to FOX Business, the average American household spends around $3,000 on gas per year.  We hate to be a buzzkill, but gas prices aren’t likely decreasing anytime soon.

You’ve got two options – stay home and have a miserable summer, or learn how to squeeze every last drop from your fuel tank so you can enjoy the open roads. We’re the seize-the-day types, so we’ve opted for the latter. Here are a few tricks to help you do the same.

  • Check your tire pressure. Underinflated tires create friction and drag, and can cause a fuel-efficient car to guzzle more gas than a Hummer on a cold day. As The New York Times notes, “Under-inflated tires add resistance, making your engine work harder to push the car along the road and burning more fuel. It’s akin… to jogging in sopping wet sneakers; it’s harder to go fast.” Properly inflated tires can increase fuel efficiency by more than 3%. Check your owner’s manual against the air pressure limits printed on the sidewall of your tire to ensure you don’t overinflate. Pumping too much air into your tires can make them unsafe!

  • Give your car a tune-up. An engine that’s not running properly can cut your gas mileage greatly, but keeping everything under the hood in tip-top shape can boost your mileage by up to 40 percent. Ask your mechanic to switch out your engine air filter and don’t skimp on oil quality. Find a service station near you at Openbay.

  • Pack smart. Sometimes it’s impossible to travel light, especially if you plan on being gone for a while. But there are things you can do to limit the amount of drag your car can experience while moving. One of those things is to use a rear-mount cargo box instead of rooftop cargo box.

  • Plan your route. Mapping your travels in advance reduces the likelihood you’ll get lost and have to spend an extra hour trying to get back to that exit you missed a hundred miles back. Using a GPS device will help keep you on track, but be sure to update your device to avoid incorrect information. It’s also smart to time your entry and exit. Traffic can kill your gas mileage, so pick your time wisely so you don’t get caught in the morning or afternoon commute jam.

  • Watch your speed. The faster you drive, the more gas you burn. As a best practice, keep an eye on your RPM and find a happy medium in your speed where your engine’s not unduly taxing itself. Also, lay off the throttle when accelerating from a stop. Whenever possible, drive at, or just below, the speed limit. Fueleconomy.gov's statistics show that gas efficiency starts to plummet when you go over 50 miles per hour — “each 5 mph you drive over 50 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for gas.” If you’ve got a lead foot, hovering close to the limit will eliminate your risk of having to pay for a speeding ticket – win/win.

Think you can’t get great gas mileage without driving a hybrid or an extremely light car? In this videoCar and Driver proves that hypermiling can pay dividends. The driver ekes out nearly 600 miles from a Bentley Continental GT V8’s tank; for reference, that car is one ton heavier than the Toyota Camry. Before you hit the road, be sure to get your car into a nearby service station to get a tune-up. Visit Openbay to find local shops, price out services, and make appointments online.

Photo Credit: PaulCockrellPhoto, Flickr.com

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Teaching Your Teen to Drive: A Clueless Parent’s Guide

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Teaching a teenager to drive can be a terrifying prospect for any parent. It’s going to happen someday, so you might as well approach it intelligently.

If there’s one rule of the road worth prioritizing – and we believe there is one – it’s “Anticipate.” Be sure your teen is always a step ahead, knowing, among other things, how weather affects road conditions, how to drive defensively around erratic drivers, and how turns in the road will affect the vehicle’s handling. And before we get into the less-obvious rules of the road, don’t even think about moving out of ‘park’ before you buckle up. The CDC indicates that “Seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about 50 percent,” so protect yourself and your precious cargo before you go.

Here are some tips on how to make it through the teen-driving-lesson nightmare without losing your sanity… and without driving your teen crazy.

Take a Chill Pill

Before you pop a Xanax, we don’t mean it literally. However, you should put yourself in the right frame of mind before climbing into the passenger’s seat. If it helps, choose a certain day of the week you know you’ll be more conducive to delivering patient instructions. Approaching this task after a particularly tough workday or a stressful situation could make your instructions sound more like nagging, so be sure you’re in the right frame of mind before hopping in the passenger seat.

Turn off your cell phone to eliminate all outside distraction, and ask your teen to do the same. According to Distraction.gov, “At any given moment during daylight hours, over 660,000 vehicles are being driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone.” To put that in context, the same web site has another disturbing fact: “Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field, blindfolded.” Thanks, but no thanks.

Go Nice and Easy

Some people believe the best way to teach someone to swim is to throw them into the deep end and let them fend for themselves. This kind of approach is not recommended for administering swimming lessons or driving lessons. Both are recipes for disaster. Start out nice and easy by giving your teen time behind the wheel in small increments. Fifteen to 20 minutes is a good start. Once they’ve got that down, you can make gradual increases in the amount of hands-on instruction time.

Map Your Route

It’s always a good idea to find an empty parking lot in which to coach your teen through his or her first tentative steps as a driver. Work on the basics to begin with, like acceleration, braking and steering. If you’re feeling adventurous, our friends at Popular Mechanics have some good tips on this – see #6-11 for some “vacant-lot lesson” specifics.

As your teen’s ability advances, ease into the driving experience by driving through neighborhood streets and eventually into areas with slightly more traffic and increasingly narrower roads. Map a route in advance and pick a time of day when you know the traffic in that area won’t be too dense. By taking this step approach, you’ll avoid hazardous conditions until you’re sure your teenager will be able to capably handle the wheel.

Don’t just say you’ll expose your teen to a variety of driving routes and weather conditions – do it. According to AAA, “Nearly half of parents reported they wanted their teens to get ‘a lot of practice,’ when asked about their plans for their teens’ driving. Yet, only about one in four parents mentioned practicing under a variety of situations or conditions, such as in bad weather, heavy traffic, or on unfamiliar roads.”

Show and Tell

Learning how to drive a car safely involves a lot more than just knowing the basic mechanics. Being a good observer of the road, and of surrounding drivers, is critical. Focus on this with your teenage driver – but do so in a manner that isn’t lecturing or derogatory. Make an activity of it by quizzing them on certain things that will serve to raise their awareness. Some ideas for questions to ask include:

  • What’s the speed limit on this road and why? 
    Fact, according to the California Driver Handbook: “High speed increases your stopping distance. The faster you go, the less time you have to avoid a hazard or collision. The force of a 60 mph crash is not just twice as great as a 30 mph crash; it’s four times as great!”

  • Are there any cars in your blind spot?
    Before hitting the road, adjust mirrors to ensure optimal visibility; here, the New York Times explains how. In addition, a quick way for your teen to check for blind spots is for the driver to look above his or her left shoulder before a lane change. Make that a habit and you’ll have us to thank for your teen not merging into a behemoth at highway speeds.

  • What was the last street sign you saw?
    New drivers have lots to memorize – mirror placement, rules and signage. Before your teen is of driving age, point out signs along the way, what they mean and why they’re important.

Accentuate the Positive

Teaching anyone to drive – especially a teenager with no experience – requires a measured approach. Naturally, there may be times where you’ll have to remind your teen they’re doing something wrong. But explain why, and if you don’t know the answer, find it online. Also, don’t forget to let them know when they’ve done something right. Give praise when it’s due, but don’t overdo it. The last thing you want to do is come off patronizing as your teen enjoys this monumental rite of passage.

Maintain Open Communication

Once your teen has earned a license, you aren’t off the hook. It’s important to stay informed of your teen’s plans, driving routes, and who’s traveling in the car; with teen drivers, “safety in numbers” doesn’t apply. According to NHSTA, “passengers substantially increase the risk of crashes for young, novice drivers. This increased risk may result from distractions that young passengers create for drivers.” Also, “the presence of passengers may increase the likelihood of teenage drivers engaging in explicitly risky behaviors, for example, by actively encouraging drivers to take risks.” Maintaining open communication may appear over-protective, but your teen’s safety is important, above all else.

Do you have any experience teaching a teenager how to drive? What have been some of your experiences? Do you have any horror stories you’d like to get off your chest? Share your experiences with us in the comments box below – we’d love to hear them!

Photo Credit: Ibrahim Kasem, Flickr.com

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