The Henry Ford museum gets $5 million from General Motors


It’s not a stretch to call The Henry Ford museum an American treasure. Located just a stone’s throw away from Ford’s world headquarters in Dearborn, Mich., the museum is devoted to the history of American innovation, with a huge collection that ranges from more than 250 automobiles like the historic Model T or the Le Mans-winning Ford Mark IV, to airplanes, steam engines, the evolution of telephones and more.

Now, the museum is benefitting from a $5 million contribution from General Motors, which will rename the flexible gallery space The Gallery by General Motors. It will host national traveling exhibitions including Enduring Ideals: Rockwell, Roosevelt & The Four Freedoms, which arrives next fall, and is currently hosting The Science Behind Pixar through March 2018.

If you haven’t been, the museum hosts everything from an Old Car Festival, a history of fueling stations exhibit, a 1931 Bugattti Type 41 Royale (currently on loan in California) and a fascinating history of Lincoln presidential limousines, perhaps the ultimate custom-built automobile. Included in the latter is the Lincoln Continental in which President John F. Kennedy was riding when he was assassinated.

While GM has plenty of vehicles represented, the museum has always, understandably, had a Ford bent. It’ll be interesting to see how things evolve under GM’s patronage.

“We know that Henry Ford and Ford Motor Co. have always been and will always be inextricably linked. There’s no getting around that,” Mark Reuss, GM’s executive vice president of global product development and a member of the museum’s board, told Crain’s Detroit Business. “But the museum is a celebration of American innovation, particularly in the transportation space, and you can’t tell that story without General Motors and Ford together.”

Crain’s also reports that the collaboration was spawned nearly four years ago when Reuss had lunch with Edsel Ford II, a fellow museum trustee, to discuss GM playing a bigger role in the museum.

It’s not the first time GM has donated money to The Henry Ford, but this is seen as the most significant contribution, GM spokeswoman Maria Raynal told Autoblog. And while there are no immediate plans to display historic GM vehicles, “it’s safe to say we will be doing so more in the future,” she said.

In a statement, Henry Ford President and CEO Patricia Mooradian said the contribution “allows us to deepen our community impact with innovative experiences and new exhibitions and programs in Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation.”

[Source: Autoblog]


Interactive map shows how cities prepare for autonomous vehicles

We hear a lot about what cities are doing with autonomous vehicles. Whether it’s identifying roads or zones for automation, preparing policies for self-driving cars (or boats, or aircraft), or even on-road testing, there’s a lot going on around the world to prepare for autonomy. It’s hard to keep all the information straight. That’s why we love this “Global Atlas of AVs in Cities” from Bloomberg Philanthropies and The Aspen Institute. It’s an interactive and well-organized map that takes inventory of which cities are doing what in the transition to robot cars.

The map currently includes 53 cities and their various AV efforts, along with links to more information. The groups responsible for the map intend to keep it up to date to serve as a resource for other cities that might plan their own initiatives.

“Cities are stronger when they learn and act together, and this map provides cities with information critical to their own success through this transition,” said James Anderson, head of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Government Innovation program. “This map will serve as an important knowledge-sharing tool, providing cities with what’s needed to not only have a seat at the table during this transformation but be leaders of it.”

The map distinguishes between cities that are preparing for AVs with long-range surveys and ones that currently run or have committed to AV pilot programs. It lists whether the partners are corporate, university, government or other entities, and states if the AVs are for private, taxi, transit, paratransit or freight duty.

Expect more pins on that map throughout the future, as more cities take on the challenge of AVs. If you know of a program that hasn’t been listed yet, there’s also a tool to submit more information to the mapmakers (Ann Arbor is missing as of this writing, for instance).

Traffic fatalities at their highest since 2007


The U.S. Department of Transportation has released its statistics on traffic fatalities for 2016, and they’re not good. Overall fatalities increased by 5.6 percent from 35,485 in 2015 to 37,461 in 2016. This means 2016 was the deadliest year on the road since 2007, when fatalities totaled 41,259. Some of the increase may be due in part to the greater number of miles driven, which jumped 2.2 percent from 2015 to 2016. But even with the increase in travel, 2016 came out worse with an increased number of deaths per million miles traveled, from 1.15 in 2015 to 1.18 in 2016.

The increase in fatalities was generally across the board. All types of light-duty passenger vehicles, including motorcycles saw increases in deaths from as little as a 1.5-percent increase for pickup trucks to as high as 8.4 percent for vans. More pedestrians and cyclists died, too, with increases of 9 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively. Drunk driving-related deaths also rose by 1.7 percent, while fatal accidents involving senior drivers over the age of 65 increased by 8.2 percent.

There is some good news, though. Seat belt usage is at its highest ever, with 90.1 percent of vehicle occupants using them. And although drunk driving fatalities were up, distracted and drowsy driving deaths were down. The distracted driving number dropped by 2.2 percent while the drowsy driving number dipped 3.5 percent. Also, the increase in traffic deaths between 2015 and 2016 was notably less than the increase between 2014 and 2015, which was a jump of 8.6 percent For additional details from the DOT’s study, check out its official page where more documents breaking down all the statistics can be found.

Robot road rage? Impatient drivers causing accidents with law-abiding autonomous cars


Self-driving cars take traffic laws, such as stop signs or speed limits, literally and follow them to a T. Humans? Not so much.

And so as the public may fear the menace of rogue autonomous vehicles failing to recognize them and causing crashes, the reality is quite different: It’s actually human drivers who are posing much of the risk, failing to fully halt at a stop sign or getting impatient with a slow-footed robot car and causing accidents with them, Bloomberg reports.

“They don’t drive like people. They drive like robots. They’re odd, and that’s why they get hit.”

The accidents typically occur at intersections rather than in free-flowing traffic, and at low speeds with no injuries. In California, the only state that requires reports when autonomous vehicles are involved in accidents, self-driving cars were rear-ended 13 times since the beginning of 2016, out of 31 collisions involving autonomous cars. The results have autonomous vehicle companies working on ways to get their vehicles to drive more naturally and intuitively with human-powered traffic.

“They don’t drive like people. They drive like robots,” Mike Ramsey, an analyst at Gartner who specializes in advanced automotive technologies, told Bloomberg. “They’re odd and that’s why they get hit.”

Said Karl Iagnemma, CEO of the self-driving software developer NuTonomy: “You put a car on the road which may be driving by the letter of the law, but compared to the surrounding road users, it’s acting very conservatively. This can lead to situations where the autonomous car is a bit of a fish out of water.”

He added: “If the cars drive in a way that’s really distinct from the way that every other motorist on the road is driving, there will be in the worst case accidents and in the best case frustration. What that’s going to lead to is a lower likelihood that the public is going to accept the technology.”

Just wait until these robot cars encounter the real menace: Teenage drivers.

11 million U.S. driver’s licenses compromised in Equifax cyber breach

The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday reported that 10.9 million Americans’ driver’s license numbers were compromised in the massive Equifax cyberattack disclosed last month.

Overall, around 145.5 million people had their information compromised, including Social Security numbers, birth dates and addresses.

The Journal reported (subscription required) that the driver’s licenses had been requested from customers to verify their identities when they went onto an Equifax web page to dispute their credit-report information — a page that later became one of the entry points hackers used to access the agency’s files. And of course a driver’s license is commonly used for confirming a person’s identity — or for stealing it.

While most of that 145.5 million customer total was in the United States, Equifax said Tuesday that 15.2 million client records in Britain were compromised, including sensitive information about nearly 700,000 consumers. The U.S.-based company said 14.5 million of the records, which dated from 2011 to 2016, did not contain information that put British consumers at risk.

Equifax said it would notify the 693,665 affected U.K. consumers by mail and offer them several of its own and third-party risk-mitigation products for free to help minimize the risk of criminal activity.

Equifax has faced seething criticism from consumers, regulators and lawmakers over its handling of the breach, which occurred between mid-May and late July and was not disclosed until Sept. 7. Since then, the company has parted ways with its chief executive officer, chief information officer and chief security officer.

“Once again, I would like to extend my most sincere apologies to anyone who has been concerned about or impacted by this criminal act,” said Patricio Remon, Equifax’s president for Europe. “Let me take this opportunity to emphasize that protecting the data of our consumers and clients is always our top priority.”

The company was alerted in March that a software security vulnerability existed in one or more of its systems, but it failed to fix the problem because of “both human error and technology failures,” former CEO Richard Smith told a U.S. congressional committee.

As a credit reporting agency, Equifax keeps vast amounts of consumer data for banks and other creditors to use to determine the chances of their customers’ defaulting.

The breach has prompted investigations by multiple federal and state agencies, including a criminal probe by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Equifax said earlier this month that it had determined some 8,000 Canadian consumers were also impacted by the breach, far fewer than the 100,000 it had previously warned were at risk.

It said the initial estimate “was preliminary and did not materialize” and that the company planned to mail notifications to those affected with information about free credit monitoring and identity theft protection services.

Reporting by John McCrank and Alastair Sharp

Paris plans to banish all but electric cars by 2030


Paris authorities plan to banish all gasoline- and diesel-fueled cars from the world’s most visited city by 2030, Paris City Hall said on Thursday.

The move marks an acceleration in plans to wean the country off gas-guzzlers and switch to electric vehicles in a city often obliged to impose temporary bans due to surges in particle pollution in the air.

Paris City Hall said in a statement France had already set a target date of 2040 for an end to cars dependent on fossil fuels and that this required speedier phase-outs in large cities.

“This is about planning for the long term with a strategy that will reduce greenhouse gases,” said Christophe Najdovski, an official responsible for transport policy at the office of Mayor Anne Hidalgo.

“Transport is one of the main greenhouse gas producers … so we are planning an exit from combustion engine vehicles, or fossil-energy vehicles, by 2030,” he told France Info radio.

The French capital, which will host the Olympic Games in the summer of 2024 and was host city for the latest worldwide pact on policies to tame global warming, had already been eyeing an end to diesel cars in the city by the time of the Olympics.

Paris City Hall, already under attack over the establishment of no-car zones, car-free days and fines for drivers who enter the city in cars that are more than 20 years old, said it was not using the word “ban” but rather introducing a feasible deadline by which combustion-engine cars would be phased out.

There are about 32 million household cars in France, where the population is about 66 million, according to 2016 data from the Argus, an automobile industry publication.

Many Parisians do not own cars, relying on extensive public transport systems and, increasingly, fast-burgeoning networks offering bikes, scooters and low-pollution hybrid engine cars for shot-term rental.

The ban on petrol-fueled, or gasoline-engine vehicles as they are known in the United States, marks a radical escalation of anti-pollution policy.

Many other cities in the world are considering similar moves and China, the world’s biggest polluter after the United States, recently announced that it would soon be seeking to get rid of combustion-engine cars too.

12 tips to tell if you’re buying a flood-damaged used car


We’ve experienced two major hurricanes. Now Hurricane Maria is raking the Caribbean, storms are queued up in the Atlantic, and we’re only a bit more than halfway through the hurricane season. So now might be a good time to review the basics of how to avoid buying a flood-damaged used car.

First, understand that no good can come from flood damage. Cars today are rolling computer systems, laden with electronics, from engine control units to airbag circuitry to the heaters in your seats. That alone makes for serious trouble when a car has been immersed — engine, mechanical and body issues aside. And even if a car looks or performs well now, that might not be the case a year or two from now when corrosion sets in.

Second, in the age of Carfax, it’s easy to assume that the marketplace could never allow flood-damaged vehicles onto the used-car market. Sadly, that’s not always the case. The way the system is supposed to work: After an insurance company declares a car totaled, it gets branded with a “salvage” title, or in the case of some states, a “flood” title. It’s then wholesaled, parted out, salvaged, recycled. If it’s sold to a buyer, it’s with clear awareness of the compromised title.

But that’s not the way it always works. First, there’s the matter of cars that were never insured in the first place, so they are never totaled. Second, if someone buys a branded car at auction, puts some degree of repair into it and gets it reinspected, it can gain a “rebuilt” title status. But Consumer Reports says it has found cases where flooded cars regained a clear title, aka “title washing,” instates with lax regulations in that regard.

So buyer beware. Here is some advice, partly from Consumer Reports, for anyone buying a used car in the coming months:

1. Check: Is the car from out of state? Cars are often transported away from flood zones to areas where there is less awareness of the issue. Which is smart, right? A couple of months from now, you’ll have forgotten all about the hurricanes. Carfax offers a free flood damage check, based partly on where the car has previously been registered.

2. Use the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System to check a vehicle’s history. You can also try the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s VIN Check service.

3. Hire a mechanic to check out the car. The mechanic, or you, should do the following:

4. Use your nose. Does the car pass the sniff test? Does it smell of must, mold or mildew? Or of heavy deodorant?

5. Check the carpets. Musty? Stained? Signs they’ve been mud-caked? Or worse, do they look like brand-new replacements? Same goes for the upholstery. Any water stains? Go ahead, peel back some carpet in the car and in the trunk. Any sign of moisture or rust? While you’re in the trunk, be sure to check the spare-tire well.

6. Check seat mounts and bolts to see if they’ve been wrenched. Seats are often removed in the course of drying out a car. Look at the springs under the seat (you might need a mirror). Are the springs rusty?

7. Check under the hood. Does the crankcase oil look properly clear or dark? Or is it more the color of chocolate milk? That can be a sign of water intrusion. Does the paper air filter show a water stain? Any evidence of a water line on the firewall, inner fenders or components? Are there signs of silt in nooks and crannies of the engine compartment?

8. Inspect headlights and taillights. Is there evidence of a past water line inside? Are they foggy?

9. Check gaps and crevices. Places under the hood, or under the dashboard, or in the trunk, or along the backside of a body panel. Run your finger over hard-to-reach (and therefore hard-to-clean) places. Is there evidence of mud or silt?

10. Check screw heads and other bits of unpainted metal under the dashboard or in other hidden places for signs of rust.

11. Check to see if rubber drainplugs on the underside of the car appear to have been removed.

12. Take a test drive. Does it run well? Check to see if all electronics work. Do the stereo speakers sound right, or do they sound garbled or distorted?