General Motors’ first electric pickup truck model will go on sale in the fall of 2021, the company’s top executive said on Thursday, around the same time as electric carmaker Tesla’s own model is expected to debut.

“General Motors understands truck buyers and … people who are new coming into the truck market,” Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra said at an investor conference in New York on Thursday. “It will be a very capable truck, I’m pretty excited about it.”

The top U.S. automaker has so far given few details on its planned line of electric pickup trucks.

Reuters reported last month that GM plans to build a new family of premium electric pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles at its Detroit-Hamtramck plant beginning in late 2021, possibly reviving the imposing Hummer brand on some of them.

Until now, the automaker had not given a date for when its first electric pickup truck would hit the market.

Pickup trucks are one of the most profitable vehicle segments in the world. The U.S. market is dominated by GM, Ford Motor Co and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV .

Ford also intends to sell an electric F-series pickup truck in late 2021, sources familiar with the plans have said.

GM’s Barra spoke on the same day that Tesla was expected to give details about its long-anticipated pickup truck model.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said the company wants to add a pickup to its growing family of premium electric vehicles, but has not provided a specific timetable. Last month, Musk described the Tesla pickup as “closer to an armored personnel carrier from the future.”

Analysts have said they expect the Tesla pickup to debut in late 2021 or early 2022.

Separately, startup Lordstown Motors Corp said on Thursday it is now accepting pre-orders for its electric pickup truck, the Endurance, for $52,500 before tax credits.

The truck is due to go on sale in the fourth quarter of 2020.

The company, which is 10% owned by Workhorse Group Inc , recently bought GM’s shuttered Lordstown Assembly plant in Ohio.

Lordstown Motors said its initial focus will be to sell to corporate fleets, but the Endurance will also be available to consumers.

Source: CNBC News

Read More

Visibility on the road is so important that the majority of states require that motorists pass basic vision tests before renewing their licenses. However, having 20/20 eyesight doesn’t automatically mean you’ve got a clear view of the road ahead! Dust, snow, rain, and even wind can fog up your windshield, and prescription glasses won’t make it any clearer. Luckily, you have wiper blades to help you with that. But with time and use, your wiper blades can wear out and cause more harm than good. Learn how often to change your wiper blades and how to tell if they need a replacement STAT

When should you replace your wiper blades?

The general rule of thumb is to replace your wiper blades every six to twelve months. But depending on where you live and how often you drive, you may need to replace them sooner. The frequency of windshield blade changes also varies depending on the type of blade on your car, with beam wiper blades generally outlasting conventional ones. A good way to keep track of your wiper blade replacement intervals is to get them checked every time you get an oil change!

How do you know when your wiper blades need replacing?

A generalized decrease in road visibility is the first sign that your wiper blades need to be replaced. However, there are several other, less-blurry red flags to watch out for:

1. Roughed-up Rubber

Wiper blades utilize a rubber “squeegee” to swipe water, snow, and ice out of your line of sight. Over time, this rubber part can become loose, worn, cracked, or stiff — resulting in a less efficient swipe.

Visually inspect your wiper blades at least once a month, and get them replaced if you notice signs of wear such as cracks, tears, or rounded edges. Additionally, lift your wiper blades into “service position” (away from the windshield) and gently bend the rubber edges back and forth to make sure they are not splitting away from the frame. If you notice the rubber is detaching from the frame, get them replaced as soon as possible. Splitting rubber edges will always worsen over time, allowing the wipers’ metal components to scratch and damage the windshield.

2. Corroded Metal

Though rust and corrosion of your windshield wipers’ arms and “joints” won’t immediately cause a decrease in visibility, it is a sign that their structural integrity is compromised! A corroded wiper blade frame is more likely to break off while you’re driving, leaving you blade-less or even causing an accident after hitting another vehicle or pedestrian. Check your wiper blade frames every few weeks, and bring them into Firestone Complete Auto Care if you notice any rust or discoloration of their metal parts.

3. Screechy Clattering

Do your windshield wipers sound like nails on a chalkboard? If so, there might be more to your problem than meets the ear! Screeching or chattering wiper blades can be a sign that the wiper arms or frames are bent. 

4. Streaky Clean

Does your windshield look more streaky than squeaky clean? There are several reasons why this can happen, and you can find the culprit using the following steps.

  • Give your windshield a good old manual cleaning with some glass cleaner and a microfiber towel. Caked-up dirt, debris, and even car wax residue can prevent wiper blades from making even contact with the glass, resulting in a streaky clean.
  • Check your wiper fluid levels. Pop the hood and find the wiper fluid reservoir (translucent tank with a windshield symbol), and check if the fluid levels reach the reservoir’s “full” mark. If the fluid levels don’t hit the mark or the reservoir is less than half full, get a wiper fluid top-off.
  • Test the wiper blades! Activate your wiper blades to check if they leave streaks even after you’ve cleaned the windshield and topped off the wiper fluid. If so, your wiper blades may be too old or damaged to efficiently “press” against the windshield, resulting in a streaky clean that can only be fixed with new blades!

Source: Firestone Complete Auto Care

Read More

Gas stations around the U.S. are rushing to upgrade fuel pumps to accept credit and debit cards with chips after Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc. rejected a request to delay a looming deadline to complete the work.

Beginning in October, station operators that haven’t modernized their pumps will face liability for any card fraud that happens at their businesses. The industry is “massively under-prepared,” said Joshua Smith, chief executive officer of Gas Pos, which sells point-of-sale systems.

“There’s not enough technicians to do the installments,” Smith said. “There’s not enough inventory. Even if there were enough contractors, there’s not enough dispensers available.”

Most retailers began to upgrade payment systems in 2015 – the first of a series of deadlines set by Visa and Mastercard as the U.S. worked to catch up with nations in Europe and Asia that had long adopted the more-secure chip cards. For fuel retailers, the deadline was ultimately pushed back five years as the industry faced costs of more than $3.9 billion to do the work.

In a 2019 survey by Conexxus, a non-profit that represents convenience stores, almost 70% of respondents who own a convenience store said they haven’t upgraded any outside pumps to the new so-called EMV technology.

Few companies manufacture the required pumps. Those that do – such as Dover Corp. or Fortive Corp.’s Gilbarco Veeder-Root – have said they’re expecting an increase in sales ahead of the deadline. Once the hardware is installed, fuel companies must have the pump software certified.

Fuel retailers that don’t upgrade could face costs of as much as $201,000 per store over the next seven years, according to data compiled by Conexxus. The group expects the fuel industry to suffer $451 million of card fraud in 2020 alone.

“There’s going to be quite a surprise come October,” Laura Townsend, senior vice president of the Merchant Advisory Group, said in an interview. “Folks that have been trying to transition to EMV will be unable to because of things outside their control. But they will bear a significant increase in losses either come October or shortly thereafter because we know fraudsters will find the weakest link.”

In the Conexxus survey, more than half of participants cited a lack of available software for not having chip technology fully deployed, while about 15% pointed to a shortage of hardware. The convenience-store industry blames Visa and Mastercard for not consulting them when setting deadlines.

“The payment standard-setting process needs to be more open,” said Anna Ready Blom, director of government relations for NACS, a trade association for the convenience-store industry. “Retailers and technology companies should have been part of the planning and decision-making on chip cards from the start. If they had been, rather than Visa and Mastercard making all the decisions without understanding them fully, we wouldn’t be in this mess.”

Visa and Mastercard aren’t willing to give gas stations more time. The networks recently rejected a plea for a delay from the Merchant Advisory Group, which helps retailers navigate payment-systems issues.

“We believe extending chip technology to fuel pumps is an important step to take to protect businesses and consumers who want to pay securely as well as conveniently,” Visa said in a statement. Mastercard said it’s seeing good adoption of EMV technology and a reduction in fraud.

Visa and Mastercard began calling for a migration to chips years ago to head off counterfeit-card fraud. The underlying technology – called EMV for founders Europay, Mastercard and Visa – generates new codes for each transaction, while the information on magnetic stripes is permanent and can be copied and stored by hackers.

More than 3.7 million merchants – or 80% of U.S. storefronts – currently accept chip cards. Since 2015, the amount of money merchants lost to counterfeit fraud has declined by 62%, according to Visa.

As gas stations start to make the switch, they’re also facing an increased threat from hackers looking to take advantage of one of the last industries that remains vulnerable to counterfeit-card fraud.

“As long as the magnetic stripe readers are in place, fuel dispenser merchants are becoming an increasingly attractive target for advanced threat actors,” Visa said in a security alert issued in November. It recommended these merchants deploy chip acceptance along with other security measures such as encryption and educating employees about phishing attacks.

Source: Detroit News

Read More

While the subject of road rage is often grist for comedians’ monologues, it’s no laughing matter if you’re on the receiving end of it. 

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, nearly 80 percent of drivers expressed significant anger, aggression or road rage behind the wheel at least once over a one-year period. The AAA estimates that over half of fatal crashes studied during a five-year period studied could be attributed to a driver’s aggressive behavior.

One report claims that road rage at this time of the year rises by 200 percent due to holiday-related stress.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines road rage as, “The operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property.” There’s even a medical term for those who vent their fury upon other motorists, “intermittent explosive disorder,” and it’s estimated to affect as many as 16 million Americans, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

A new study conducted by the insurance website The Zebra determined that, not surprisingly, the most common aggressive road rage behavior is honking a vehicle’s horn to express anger or frustration, with 59 percent of respondents admitting to the practice. Other prevalent hostile actions include changing lanes without signaling (45 percent), and yelling/cursing at another driver or pedestrian (42 percent). 

Tailgating was found to make motorists the angriest at 44 percent, followed by distracted driving (42 percent), getting cut off (33 percent), driving too slow (30 percent), and not using turn signals (28 percent).

Seven percent of motorists queried admit to having left their vehicles to confront another driver in the past year, with six percent saying they’ve gotten into a physical confrontation. Perhaps adding fuel to the proverbial fire, The Zebra found that 46 percent of motorists admit to keeping a weapon in their car for personal protection (a knife, pepper spray, a club, etc), with seven percent saying they pack a gun while driving.

While 14 states have passed laws against “aggressive driving,” only one, California, has a bona fide road rage bill on the books. The financial consequences of getting caught driving recklessly can be debilitating. In addition to paying fines and court costs, The Zebra found that motorists being cited for reckless driving will see their annual insurance premiums skyrocket by an average of 70 percent ($1,034), and as much as 390 percent ($4,220) in some states. 

Experts say the best way to respond when another driver seems to be venting his or her anger in your direction is not to react at all. If another driver cuts you off or is otherwise driving aggressively, slow down and give them room to pass. Do not respond with obscene gestures or equally hostile actions. If you inadvertently cut off another driver, try to apologize by making a suitable hand gesture.

If you feel you’re in danger because of another driver’s actions, use a cell phone to call police or drive to a police station if there’s one within proximity to get law enforcement involved. Never exit your vehicle to confront the other person if you’re at a traffic signal or are otherwise stopped.

Let’s make this a noteworthy holiday season for all the right reasons.

Sources: Forbes, The Zebra

Read More

In the thick of winter, the common wisdom is that when you are gearing up to take your truck out in the cold and snow, you should step outside, start up your engine, and let it idle to warm up. But contrary to popular belief, this does not prolong the life of your engine; in fact, it decreases it by stripping oil away from the engine’s cylinders and pistons.

In a nutshell, an internal combustion engine works by using pistons to compress a mixture of air and vaporized fuel within a cylinder. The compressed mixture is then ignited to create a combustion event—a little controlled explosion that powers the engine.

When your engine is cold, the gasoline is less likely to evaporate and create the correct ratio of air and vaporized fuel for combustion. Engines with electronic fuel injection have sensors that compensate for the cold by pumping more gasoline into the mixture. The engine continues to run rich in this way until it heats up to about 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

“That’s a problem because you’re actually putting extra fuel into the combustion chamber to make it burn and some of it can get onto the cylinder walls,” Stephen Ciatti, a mechanical engineer who specializes in combustion engines at the Argonne National Laboratory, told Business Insider. “Gasoline is an outstanding solvent and it can actually wash oil off the walls if you run it in those cold idle conditions for an extended period of time.”

The life of components like piston rings and cylinder liners can be significantly reduced by gasoline washing away the lubricating oil, not to mention the extra fuel that is used while the engine runs rich. Driving your car is the fastest way to warm the engine up to 40 degrees so it switches back to a normal fuel to air ratio. Even though warm air generated by the heater core will flow into the cabin after a few minutes, idling does surprisingly little to warm the actual engine.

The best thing to do is start the car, take a minute to knock the ice off your windows, and get going. The obvious caveat here is that if it’s below freezing, you need to make sure your defroster is working before you go tearing out of your driveway. Don’t be the person peering through a porthole in your ice-covered windshield. Some cars, like certain Land Rovers, expedite this process with electric heating elements in the windshield.

Also, hopping into your car and gunning it straightaway will put unnecessary strain on your engine. It takes 5 to 15 minutes for your engine to warm up while driving, so take it nice and easy for the first part of your drive. Performance cars often enforce that process with a graduated rev limiter—you don’t get full RPM until the engine is up to temperature.

Warming up your car before driving is a leftover practice from a time when carbureted engines dominated the roads. Carburetors mix gasoline and air to make vaporized fuel to run an engine, but they don’t have sensors that tweak the amount of gasoline when it’s cold out—they use a mechanical system called a “choke” to temporarily restrict the air intake and run a richer mixture.

This is a crude way to adjust the air-fuel ratio, and anyone with a carbureted engine can attest that it’s hard to drive under load when the carb is choked. It’s easy to stray too rich on the mixture and foul your spark plugs. As a result, you do need to let older cars warm up before driving or they will stall out. But carbureted engines were on their way out by the late 1980s.

We asked Volvo, which conducts cold-weather testing in the Arctic, whether their new cars need any sort of warmup, and the answer was an ever-so-slightly qualified no. According to Volvo, “It’s best to just give the engine a few seconds to build oil pressure before driving normally. Good oil quality and condition are crucial for protecting the engine in cold start conditions.”

The engine block heater

If only there were a way to get your car’s fluids up to temperature—and thus get the heater and defroster going—before actually starting your car. Well, there is: an engine block heater. Block heaters use an electrical element to preheat your engine’s fluids so it’s ready to go (and easier to start) when the temperature drops, thus explaining the three-prong plug poking out of the grille of your neighbor’s definitely-not-hybrid F250. They’re a common option on trucks, with Chevy charging only $100 for a block heater on a new Colorado (gas or diesel), but they can also be retrofitted to just about any vehicle.

Aftermarket block heaters are also inexpensive, and can be well worth the money when you consider the reduced wear and tear (and generally more pleasant mornings) they deliver.

So that’s it. Unless you’re rolling in a 1970s Chevelle—which we assume isn’t your daily driver—bundle up, scrape off your car, and get it moving.

Source: popularmechanics.com

Read More