Does Your Smartphone Decide Your Car?

General News
Smartphones

Let’s be honest your car’s dashboard is old and dumb.

Just imagine being back in the pre-smartphone revolution, the days when you dropped your phone and it didn’t crack and still worked. You have  just heard about the iPhone and you are amazed but don’t see why you would ever possibly need all those features. When you finally purchase a smartphone you don’t understand how anyone has EVER lived without one. That is exactly the point in time where we are now.

[Tweet “We are staring down the barrel of a technological revolution in the centre console of every car.”]

We have already seen a shift in how cars are made and even what technology goes into cars from car maker, Tesla. The new Tesla cars’ are fully electric but the dashboard is the revolution that you will recognise the most. The centre console is a touch screen display that combines internet access as well as the standard car buttons (such as air conditioning).

Technological Limitations

The usual phone contract in Australia is about 24 months, in this time the phone you bought would have been superseded by at least 2 models and you are way behind the times. The day you buy your brand new car with all its technology it is already of date, due to the fact is that it takes about 5 years to get from concept to production.

There are really two options:

Option 1 is that you trade in your car every single year so that you can get the latest model and technology (will still be out of date)

Option 2 is where the software runs off the power of your phone. At the end of the day I am sure that nearly everyone in the world would choose to just upgrade their phone and that is why the operating systems are run simply by plugging in your phone.

Option 2 is probably the option you will be going with, unless you are planning to spend your life’s savings on cars.

The dashboard revolution is happening because of the number of deaths on the roads due to texting and drivers being distracted.

TRIVIAL text messages sent or read by drivers at the wheel have claimed the lives of at least 20 people on the nation’s roads and left many more injured.”- News Limited investigation in 2013

The technology aims to solve the problem of people texting while driving, by having minimal-on screen text and maximum voice control to ensure that you are not tempted to focus on the screen.

At this point in time there are three operating systems (apart from tesla and a few others) that are coming to fruition in the near future.

Google's Android Auto
Android Auto

Google’s new Android Auto was introduced on the 25th of June at their annual I/O Conference. The software brings the voice-activated commands and simple design of Android phones to your car.

Android Auto in the simplest form is a bigger smartphone that is stuck in the middle of your car.

Simply plug your phone into the car via USB then the in-dash screen takes control over your smartphone. A voice-activation button on your car steering wheel (on new cars) will allow you to ask Google for directions or to select a song or radio station.

Apple CarPlay
Apple CarPlay

Android Auto is extremely similar to Apple’s CarPlay.

It is similar in the way that both have steering wheel voice activation buttons (Apple with Siri and Android with Google Now) and apps as the home screen interface. Again, the software is very similar to its iPhone, and requires a user to plug their phone into the car.

At the moment it seems that the Android Auto system has a leg up on the CarPlay system as the Android system has contextual awareness. The Android system can, for instance, offer a less-congested route when you are driving to work, where Apple’s CarPlay does not have this functionality yet.

It is important to note that Apple announced it’s in car system back in March and just recently Google and Microsoft have announced their in-car systems.

One limitation of Apple’s CarPlay is that it requires a iPhone 5 or newer to be compatible with. In other words, if you are thinking about getting the CarPlay you may also have to upgrade to a new phone.

To see Apple CarPlay in action click here.

Microsoft
microsoft-concept-car-demo-100259739-large

Microsoft’s in-car system is exactly the same as Google’s Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay just with a Microsoft looking interface. There is one difference that may actually see Microsoft win the in-car dashboard market. It doesn’t make any difference what OS you are running on your phone it will work with your in-car system.

This means that if down the track you decide to switch from Apple to Android then you won’t have to get your car changed as well; this could be a driving factor in your phone choice (which is probably what these companies want).

Smartphone = Car Choice?

The big question is does your smartphone mean you have to pick a certain car?

The answer is yes and no.

At the time of writing this article there are a few automakers who have only signed with one tech company but, it is not going to stay that way.

The idea of eliminating a percentage of the market because of your smartphone choice would go against the basic principles of selling. For example, Apple have a “15.3% market share” and Samsung with a “31.2% market share”, if a company didn’t allow consumers to choose dashboard operating systems then they would be missing out on 15.3% and 31.2% respectively of the market.

We have already seen the announcement from a number of automakers that they will be compatible with CarPlay and Android Auto. Pioneer is also selling aftermarket systems running on the Apple CarPlay operating system, at the end of this year.

Would you buy a specific car because of your smartphone? Which operating system would you want to use in your car?

What Is The Cheapest Car To Own?

General News

The RACT (Royal Automobile Club of Tasmania) recently released their annual report on which car is the cheapest to own. The overall winner was the Suzuki Alto, which was not surprising considering the size of the car.

“In six cases, petrol is cheaper to own, while six of the diesels cost less. In some instances, the difference is $80+ a week; in one, it’s just 10c. Generally, petrol suits passenger sedans but diesel works for a large SUV.” Said an RACV spokesperson

The real question that comes from the report is: If you are getting the most efficient car on the market, why not get the most efficient car that saves you on tax as well?

We decided that we would take the figures in the RACT report and see if we could save you money on the ‘cheapest to run vehicle’ in each vehicle class.  We used a novated lease as our car financing option, as it would give you the best savings at the end of the day. If you would like to learn more about what a novated lease is watch the video below.

For all our calculations we will be using Bob, he is an average man earning $55,000 a year. Some of his car considerations in this article may be a bit iffy for some people; but he likes all cars no matter what the size and just wants to see his savings.

Cheapest Vehicle To Run

Bob is looking at the cheapest car to run the Suzuki Alto with an annual total cost of $5,545.56, which he is getting very limited tax savings off.  Under a novated lease, he would get an increase of $1,852 in take home pay every year, for driving exactly the same car. This is done by taking out all the running costs from his pre-tax salary and then being taxed on his salary minus the running costs.

Suzuki Alto
Light Vehicle
Suzuki-Swift

In the Light vehicle category the Suzuki Swift was the cheapest was a Suzuki Swift, with an annual cost of $6,120. Under a Car Finance Shop novated lease Bob would save $2,034.75 a year.

Small Vehicle

In the Small Vehicle class, the Holden Cruze was the front runner with an annual cost of $7,808.28. Under a novated lease Bob would save $2,433.19.

Holden Cruze
Medium Size Vehicle
Volkswagen-Jette

In the Medium Vehicle class the Volkswagen Jetta topped the lot with an annual cost of $9,311.45. It was cheaper than Australia’s most popular car for May 2014 the Toyota Corolla. Under a novated lease the Volkswagen Jetta would pocket Bob an extra $2,998.61.

Large Vehicles

In the Large Vehicles class the Holden Commodore Evoke VF was the best bang for Bob’s buck with an annual cost of $11,848.01. While under a Novated lease Bob could be saving $3,115.73.

Holden Commodore Evoke VF
Medium SUV
Mitsubishi Outlander

In the Medium SUV class, if Bob purchased a Mitsubishi Outlander he would have running costs of $10,262.42. Bob decided to go with a novated lease with the Car Finance Shop so he got to take home an extra $3,855.45 a year.

The average savings from these six models using a novated lease was $2,887.55.  Bob could go overseas every year from the savings he got with a novated lease, every single year of owning his car. Bob is quite the happy chappy and you could be too.

If you would like more information please do not hesitate to call us on 1300 309 343.

All figures used for calculation purposes in this article are based off the RACT figures in the 2014 Vehicle Operating Costs report: using 12,000 km/year as the basis for calculation, car price and residual as given, over a 5 year Novated Lease. The only estimate in the calculation was the income which we set at a standard annual income of $55,000.

11 Ways Self-Driving Cars Will Change Your Life

General News
What are Self-Driving Cars?

No matter the term, whether it is a ‘self-driving’, driverless, highly autonomous or autonomous vehicle, the result is the control element shifting from humans to computers. The future of this technology brings with it many advantages but some disadvantages that could see the shaping of automotive freedom for society in the future.

Audi Stop-Start Technology

Audi for example have been trying to create an autonomous vehicle for a number of years. Some of the technology it has developed they have used in their current models or are planned for their upcoming models.

Audi have created a system that links with traffic lights so that the car will speed up or slowly brake to optimise petrol usage by either slowing down or speeding up for the lights.  It also has a stop-start system that will start the engine five seconds before the lights turn green. The aim of all this technology is to save petrol, by removing the jerky breaking that driver’s usual do when they come to the lights.

The prototype that Google showed off on May 28th far exceeded the building blocks that Audi have in store for its upcoming models. It is aiming for a fully autonomous vehicle that will require no human control, except for entering a destination.   The current prototype has no steering wheel and no pedals, which for some sounds scary, but for others sounds amazing.

After Google showed off its prototype on May 28th, Uber CEO  Travis Kalanick posted the following to Twitter

 and in the same day said the following:

Self-driving cars are the future for the automotive industry and could transform many other industries in the process. But how will these autonomous cars advantage your life?

7 Advantages of Self-driving Cars
Traffic congestion

Here are some of the possible benefits of autonomous vehicles:

1. Self-driving cars WILL save lives: This is the most obvious of applications and is the clear reason why the technology is required. According to an expert for The Age, the autonomous cars could “slash the road toll by 80 per cent”. Furthering on from the statement that “Experts know human error is to blame for about 95 per cent of collisions on the roads.”

2. Autonomous cars will be more fuel efficient: with the price of fuel ever increasing the wastage occurring due to human error will be eliminated error, thereby maximising fuel.  Also cars will be smaller and lighter as less safety features will be required.

3. Commutes will be faster and less stressful: The worst part of many Australians is the commute to and from work. With the assistance of self-driving cars the commute will be shorter as cars will be able to drive at a steadier speed. Also you can have a nap on the way to and from work.

4. More people will be able to drive: with constant talks about “should or shouldn’t elderly individuals be able to drive”, the autonomous vehicle will completely remove this barrier and allow nearly everyone to ‘drive’. The notion of L platers and P platers will be gone and the minimum age could be set by government.

5. Improving the sharing generation: with many experts identifying the younger generations as the sharing generation the driverless car could offer them a unique sharing experience.  It is estimated that privately owner cars are parked 90 per cent of their life, this means cars could be shared when the car isn’t in use for one individual.

6. Make bike riding and walking safer:  with the bicycle road toll doubling from 2012 to 2013, to 14 deaths, the autonomous vehicles will make the roads a safer place for all users.

Self-driving cars will cut the road toll by 80 per cent

7. The rise of electronic vehicles: the adoption of autonomous vehicles could drastically improve the likelihood of the adoption of fully electric cars. With the autonomous vehicles creating more light weight vehicles, this could increase the travel distance of a single battery, resulting in a decrease in fuel consumption.

4 Disadvantages of Self-driving Cars

There are number concerns/disadvantages of autonomous cars:

  1. Loss of jobs: The biggest concern of self-driving cars is the negative effects on numerous industries. The self-driving car will lower the demand in industries such as public transport and private transport (such as Taxis). Companies such as Uber have already suggested that it could potentially flip its business on its head by eliminating the need for ‘freelance’ drivers. The switch would see autonomous vehicles take the place of drivers and really only require maintenance and technological crew for behind the scenes. It would nearly eliminate the workforce and put hundreds of thousands of people out of jobs.
  2. Legal changes: with the introduction of a new form of technology, government will have to set new laws to do with privacy and safety features for all vehicles. Some governments are already stating that autonomous vehicles must be able to have the ability to be human controlled.
  3. Privacy infringements:   With the car being controlled by GPS navigation, does this lessen user’s privacy. Will companies be able to track people’s locations? How much of the data will be stored? How much of it will be shared?
  4. Self-learning computer uprising: The other concern is a bit of a novelty concern, but many people believe that it could actually occur. For most Sci-Fi nerds the fear of Skynet (from Terminator) is ever present whenever control is passed from human to machine.  Skynet is based on the premise that computers began to teach itself and blocked out human control as it humans were deemed inefficient. This argument will continuously be brought up in the future as more mundane jobs and chores are completed by autonomous robots and computer systems.

Can you think of any other ways self-driving cars will change your life?

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