Author Archives: Alibhai

Autonomous cars could transform Transport for people with mobility challenges

13 Dec 17
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Former Indy car racer Sam Schmidt has a million-dollar car which permits him to do something that we said he’d never be able to perform again — push on hisnbsp;possess.

But he can not wait for fully autonomous vehicles to get there. Not for driving on the trail, where he feels fully safe manoeuvring his altered 2016 Corvette Stingray by employing special gears made for quadriplegics. Instead, Schmidt says that he needs the security features found in autonomous automobiles to face the intimidating streets of Las Vegas, where henbsp;resides.

“I really don’t feel comfortable on the road,” says Schmidt, who dropped the use of his four limbs at a 2000 crash onto a racetrack at Orlando. He is the first quadriplegic from the United States to have an unrestricted license to induce a semi-autonomousnbsp;automobile.

“I need to have the security of backup systems in place,” henbsp;states.

Calgarian Barry Lindemann also can not await the liberty he partners with fully autonomous automobiles being developed by Tesla and a number of other autonbsp;manufacturers.

“I ride from the Tesla dealership daily. I can’t wait till they start offering these cars,” says Lindemann, who became a quadriplegic after a diving accident 23 years back. “It’s something I am really excited about. It will revolutionize the way people getnbsp;around.”

Two groups in particular could gain more personal mobility with the debut of self-driving automobiles: individuals with severe disabilities and aging Canadians who lose their license for healthnbsp;motives.

Larry Hutchinson, president and chief executive officer of Toyota Canada, emphasized those two classes in a recent speech in Toronto. Calling the prospect of automated technologies to revolutionize transportation and change society, he said: “Consider the life-changing impact autonomous vehicles will have on the millions of individuals with mobilitynbsp;challenges.

“The elderly. People with disabilities. Or people who can not afford to get their own ownnbsp;automobile.”

Individuals with disabilities have quite a lot of confidence in the technology, says Robyn Robertson, president and CEO of the Ottawa-based Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF), which polled Canadians on autonomous automobiles in 2016. Seniors, however, are much morenbsp;doubtful.

“Seniors have likely the capacity to reap the best benefits from the technology,” Robertson says. “But they do not trustnbsp;it.”

Instead, the most enthusiastic advocates for autonomous driving are those who drive longer distances and younger men — “the crash population,” as Robertson describes the latternbsp;group.

Lindemann, a client-relationship associate with TD property in Calgary, says one of the biggest pluses to autonomous automobiles are the ability not to have to rely on a motorist to getnbsp;about.

“Sometimes, you only need to get away on your own,” he says, noting he often will not go to events as a ride can not be arranged. Contemporary lift equipment is in the point of having the ability to put a quadriplegic to a car without human aid, henbsp;states.

“The power wheelchair just protects you set up,” Lindemann says. “Once you lock, you simply close the door and say, ‘Take me to the pub. ‘nbsp;”

Schmidt notes another significant benefit to autonomous automobiles — the comparative affordability, if they’re only used on demand. Equipping a van to accommodate a quadriplegic prices around $80,000 (U.S.) (and, Lindemann says, $130,000 in Canada), which puts them out of reach for many disabled persons. Being able to rely on an Uber-like assistance, in which someone pays for the car only while using it, could place the freedom option withinnbsp;reach.

The advocacy group Canadian Association of Retired People hasn’t yet taken a position on autonomous automobiles, says Tamara Cormak, manager of communications. “We frequently receive personal stories from members on several issues, but not on this particular onenbsp;nonetheless.”

Its U.S. counterpart, however, is fully behind the notion of shared self-driving cars. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) says in a policy statement that this “disruptive technology” could fix systemic problems in the U.S. transport system which make it hard for individuals to own and operate their own ownnbsp;vehicles.

“This contributes to problems for the one-third of individuals living in the U.S. who don’t drive. Moving forward, shared-use freedom — such as car-sharing, ride-sharing, ride-splitting — can be a tool to affect development patterns and individual travel options,” according to the AARPnbsp;announcement.

The trend has attracted investor interest. A Canadian investment fund launched the world’s first “future car” exchange-traded finance in September, providing investors one-stop access to businesses involved with electrical, autonomous and connected automobile supplynbsp;chains.

“There’s a good deal of investor appetite out there looking for ways to express their belief in the subject,” stated Elliot Johnson, chief operating officer of Evolve Funds Group, about its Automobile Innovation Indexnbsp;ETF.

Not too fast, TIRF’s Robertson says. She says that there are still a few significant barriers to be addressed before completely autonomous cars are set loose on the street. Driverless technology “has plenty of potential,” but it’s far from perfect. Autonomous cars make it possible for drivers to disengage from the driving experience, and that can be harmful, particularly if they believe the computer is capable of getting them from dangerous drivingnbsp;scenarios.

“Canadians want to rely on automation in states when technology will probably fail,” she states, like during adverse road conditions or unexpected behavior from different drivers. Drivers will need to have the ability to re-engage almost immediately in these conditions, and yet we’ve been lulled into trusting the computer: “The car says, ‘You’re up,’ and you are not ready,” Robertsonnbsp;states.

“As we become reliant on technology, we lose a few of the fundamental skills,” shenbsp;states.

Humans continue to be better at making decisions in a crisis, Robertson says. In a crisis, autonomous cars need to participate in “ethical decision-making” in the face of complex elements, such as who tonbsp;shield.

By way of instance, “Can you protect a car with a car seat in it over a vehicle that has two adults inside?” shenbsp;asks.

AARP is calling on policy makersnbsp;to:

  • Simplifies security for all road users in regulating autonomousnbsp;vehicles.
  • Establish criteria for comprehensive testing of autonomous vehicles before their installation and require manufacturers to publish the results of suchnbsp;testing.
  • Bar using partly automated vehicles on non-controlled access roads, such as citynbsp;roads.
  • Ensure consumer safety andnbsp;solitude.
  • Require client education and training on innovative vehiclenbsp;technology.

In the not too distant future, Robertson believes the roads are likely to feature both kinds of drivers on the street: individuals who have complete control of their cars and people in semi-autonomous vehicles. To her, it’s a worrying scenario. She notes that as semi-autonomous vehicles are introduced into U.S. roads, the speed of crashes because 2015 has gonenbsp;up.

Whether entirely autonomous cars are acceptable depends upon if engineers and technologists can “resolve that last 10 percent” of layout that would make them dependable, predictable and equipped to react to unexpectednbsp;scenarios.

As for her? “I have ridden in one on a freeway. I would not be comfortable not payingnbsp;focus.”

Shopping for a new car? Take a look at the new to find the hottest discounts, rebates and rates on new cars, trucks and SUVs. For yournbsp;cost.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Holiday gift ideas to keep you and your little auto enthusiast happy

12 Dec 17
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There are two things about kids and cars. One, the kids need to be entertained on a long drive and, two, as car fanatics, we hope they like what we like. So, we’ve come up with a combo list of Christmas gifts to keep everyone happy.

In the stocking

Crayola Color Wonder

Toys “R” Us, $5.99

This tidy little pack comes with three markers and 15 pages to colour. The beauty of this product is that it’s the paper that holds the magic – not the markers. The paper reacts to the colourless and odourless ink, which will not stain clothes or car seats if the marker is dropped. The pages have hidden scenes only to be discovered as the artist paints.

PlayTape by

Wal-Mart, $4.97

Going to grandma’s house but can’t pack the entire box of Hot Wheels track? Take the cars and a pocket-sized roll of road and create your own. PlayTape is simply a roll of lightly adhesive tape with a selection of road motifs, but give the kids some jars for jumps and books for buildings and they’ll be building roadways all day long. Although the nine-metre-long tape is only good for one use, at this low price you can buy two.

Under the Tree

Music & Lights Comfy Car

, $108.99 (but shop around for more online prices)

The average five-month-old child might be too young to fully appreciate this toy, but all the noises, the mirror and spinning gauges will immediately have him or her captive. The seat is comfy and as the child grows, their feet will fit through the grill. Spare toys can be stowed in a netted trunk. The dash is easily detached and can be used on the stroller to make you go faster. BEEP! BEEP!

Hot Wheels Track Builder

Toys “R” Us, $24.47

You didn’t think we would forget Hot Wheels? There is always room for more Hot Wheels, and the latest incarnation is the Track Builder series. This kit puts the driver in the builder’s seat, or possibly the other way around, and comes with a starter car, bricks (like Lego), track, launcher, loops and building suggestions to rev up imagination. Within minutes, our builder was off to the races.

Volkswagen T1 Camper Van by Lego

Lego Store, $129.99

This beauty will keep the teens engaged for hours. It’s an authentic replica of the 1962 VW camper van that has to be built from the ground up. Everything from the wheels to the foldout bench has to be assembled. You may want to help build the air-cooled flat-four-cylinder boxer engine, but you’ll probably get your hands slapped by the budding mechanic. With more than 1300 pieces, this project will take a bit of effort (best for ages 16 and up).

Road Trips

Myla the Monkey Portable Soother by Vtech

Toys “R” Us, $39.99

Our tester and her mom instantly fell in love with Myla the Monkey. The music is soft and non-irritating, the light-up cheeks are mesmerizing and the soothing sounds, including rushing water and white noise, are perfect for long drives. As a bonus, it’s also rechargeable. The tail hooks on the car-seat handle or hangs from the headrest on the back seat of the car.

Imaginarium Magnetic Drawing Board

Toys “R” Us, $19.99

Except for the soft tap, tap, tap of magnets touching the “canvas,” there was silence in the back seat when the young ones took out this magnetic drawing board. The preschooler in particular loved drawing and erasing his creations. Kids can make their own art, play tic-tac-toe with a sibling or learn to spell. There’s plenty of options for this toy.

Take ‘N’ Play Anywhere magnetic games

Walmart, $6.93 each

With no batteries required and minimal noise, these games are perfect for long car rides. The magnetic pieces stick to the box while the kids play a wide assortment of games. The hangman set was the biggest hit with our testers, who were just learning to spell. And if you fold the lid, the game is instantly self-contained.

Kwizniac 2 Card Game, $29.70

Recommended by teachers, this trivia game can engage the entire family. In each round, the 10 time-limited clues get easier as you go through the list – but the points you score decrease, too. Example: “He has a keen intellect and super fighting skills.” Know who it is? Next clue: “He has no superhuman powers.” Need more? “He lives in Gotham City.” Of course, it’s Batman. The questions range from naming comic-book heroes to knowing facts in science and the world today. Best for ages 12 and up.

Shopping for a new car? Check out the new to see the latest discounts, rebates and rates on new cars, trucks and SUVs. to get your price.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Could getting demerit points from speeding increase my insurance?

11 Dec 17
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I got a speeding ticket for going 20 km/h above the limit but it doesn’t say how many demerit points I lose. Does that mean I won’t lose any? I really don’t understand how demerits work and I’m worried that my insurance will go up. – Mike, Toronto

At a loss trying to figure out how demerits work? You’ve got plenty of company.

“Every single ticket issued, the first word out of people’s mouths is, ‘How many points do I lose?’ ” said Constable Clint Stibbe of Toronto Police Traffic Services. “But you don’t lose points, you gain them.”

Demerits are strikes against your driving record. , you start out with zero and get demerits added by the province when you get convicted of many Ontario Highway Traffic Act offences.

range from two demerits (for offences such as making an illegal turn) to seven demerits (for not stopping when police try to pull you over or for failing to remain at an accident).

Looking at speeding specifically: going 30-49 km/h over the limit is four demerits; 16-29 km/h over is three and there are no demerits if you’re 15 km/h or less over the limit.

And, , you’ll still get demerits from tickets you got in other provinces.

Demerits not on the ticket

When you’re pulled over, the officer doesn’t decide how many demerit points you’ll get, he just gives you a ticket for breaking a particular section. The ticket itself doesn’t show the demerits.

“The only time you would see any reference to demerits would be if we issue a warning for the offence,” Stibbe said. “If you get a warning, it will indicate what the fine and the demerits would have been. It’s like a safety brochure.”

If you do get a ticket and you pay it, or you fight it and the court finds you guilty, you’ll automatically get the demerit points associated with it.

There are a couple of exceptions. You won’t get demerit points . And while running a red light normally comes with three demerits, there are no demerits if it’s a ticket from a That’s because they get sent to the owner of the vehicle, who may not have been the one driving.

Gain demerits, lose your licence?

The specifics vary by province, but generally, if you rack up enough demerit points, your driver’s licence will get suspended.

If you have a full licence in Ontario, the ministry can decide to suspend your licence once you have nine demerits. But if you get to 15 or more, your licence is automatically suspended for 30 days.

For new drivers with G1 or G2 restricted licences, six demerits could be enough to get a licence suspension; nine demerits is an automatic 60-day suspension.

The demerits stay on your licence for two years. But the conviction stays on your driving record for three years, Stibbe said. Suspensions stay on your record for six years.

Convictions matter for insurance

It’s that conviction, rather than the demerits themselves, that your insurance company is looking at when deciding whether to raise your rates.

“The more tickets and infractions you have on your driving record the larger the risk you become to insure and your rate will reflect that,” said John Bordignon, spokesman for State Farm Canada, in an e-mail.

Companies can use any convictions on your record, even if they didn’t come with demerits. Generally, they break convictions into three categories: minor, major and serious.

Minor includes following too closely and speeding. Major includes improper passing of a school bus or failing to report an accident. Serious includes speeding 50 km/h over the posted limit and impaired driving.

So, something like speeding could affect your rates – even if it’s only for 10 km/h over the limit and didn’t come with demerits.

“If you have two or three within a three-year window, even those could add up,” said Pete Karageorgos, director of consumer and industry relations with the Insurance Bureau of Canada. “The company will think, ‘Wait a minute, the trend here is that this is not a good driver.’ “

Rates soar, even without demerits

We looked at online insurance calculators and compared rates for a 30-year-old, male, married driver with a 2015 Honda Civic and no previous accidents.

With no tickets in the past three years, the lowest available rate was $1,878 a year. With two minor tickets, it rose to $2,017, with three to $4,987 and with four or more to $5,325.

The government doesn’t notify your insurance company when you get a ticket, but the company can still find out.

“Insurance companies on a semi-regular basis will check people’s driving records – if you’ve been with the same company, they may not look for two or three years,” Karageorgos said. “But if you’re shopping around for a new policy, that new insurance company will actively look at your driving record.”

And if you apply for a new policy without telling them about your ample collection of speeding tickets, your policy could be cancelled.

Have a driving question? Send it to . Canada’s a big place, so please let us know where you are so we can find the answer for your city and province.

Shopping for a new car? Check out the new to see the latest discounts, rebates and rates on new cars, trucks and SUVs. to get your price.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Raise a glass figuratively — to Germany’s Mercedes Mill

05 Dec 17
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Some of my thoughts from being an exchange student and working for Daimler-Benz in West Germany are a little hazy — after all, it was 37 years back. The business beer trolley lady may have had something to with it also. On my long-awaited return to the Mercedes plant in Sindelfingen near Stuttgart in mid-November, I ask if employees online are still served beer, and my young tour guide, Claudius, thinks I am joking. But his elderly colleague Gaby laughs knowingly. “Ach so! Yah, in former times employees would drink beer, but that ceased in the early 1990s.”

Back in the 1980s — when I was a 120-pound 19-year-old — my workmates who were departing for their generous summer vacations would purchase a beer for each person on our section of the assembly line. While sparks flew around and Werkmeisters (line foremen) whizzed by on bikes, I saw my world gradually move along on conveyors with a native Dinkelacker brew in my hands. There was always a glass of subsidized suds out there from the canteen at lunch or dinner. Price: about 12 cents.

Times have changed. On my latest factory tour, with the odor of freshly ground steel bringing on fresh waves of nostalgia, I am amazed to discover that my entire preliminary chassis assembly line is currently 100-per-cent operated by exact, laser-welding robots.

Daimler offers guided tours of the mill floor of the Sindelfingen plant, in English, free to the public Monday to Friday. (They are also very popular and thus don’t appear without emailing ahead at to book.) Antje, a group tour guide, discovering my fascination, reads my thoughts. “Guide welding is very rarely — it is not like in former times,” she says, then adds, “Mercedes developed laser welding, but the future belongs to adhesive.”

Farther along the line, I see more robots expel exact traces of glue and envision what a mess I’d have made with a enormous glue gun. Automobile bodies travel several kilometres only within the body shop, while the motors come from Stuttgart or elsewhere. Nevertheless, the ultimate second remains “the union.” With laser precision, the body is gradually lowered from above while the chassis rises from below — until they meet to be a meticulously fitting clam shell, with openings measured in micrometres.

Mercedes’s biggest plant employs roughly the same amount of people that it did throughout my Cold War stint: 35,000. Just in the media, paint and body shops, more then 20,000 operate in three shifts around the clock. (Daimler AG employees amount 280,000 worldwide.) A 35-hour workweek in Germany is further improved by six weeks vacation in a worker’s first year, plus seven to ten holiday vacations. Jobs are rotated every 2 hours and the huge majority of employees are trained likewise so a worker from Bremen can swap tasks with one in Sindelfingen or even South Africa. In 2015, the Sindelfingen plant celebrated its 100th anniversary making its 20 millionth vehicle.

Over 300,000 vehicles roll out the doors in Sindelfingen annually such as the Mercedes E-, S– and CLS Class, the CLS Shooting Brake, Maybach and the AMG GT. “We are as large as Monaco — but we’ve got more luxury cars,” manual Gaby says of this sprawling three-square-kilometre plant.

I can’t recall what versions I worked on, or indeed which were constructed in Sindelfingen in 1980 and not surprisingly, the question stumped my guides. I do recall that the job offer fell in my lap in late April and by early May, I had been flying Wardair into the Bundesrepublik Deutschland (BRD or West Germany) along with 10 other Canadian university students who were soon widely dispersed throughout the mill.

As widely as English is spoken now, the language (in addition to French) was virtually non-existent at Daimler-Benz at the moment. Hand signs and repeated loud instructions were deemed sufficient instruction to learn assembly line regular. And learning how to speak German proved an illusive goal with not just one German federal working in my line. (Really, when I finally returned to Canada, I talked more Turkish, Italian, Spanish and Greek.)

As an alumni in my November trip, I was able to finagle my way to a lunch-time schnitzel (no beer) at one of the mill’s massive cafeterias which was another trip down memory lane. As I look around at the faces of many employees, I am told that about 20 percent of today’s workforce comes from 60 different countries, in addition to many second and third generation children of Germany’s guest worker program, once dominated by Turks.

As I afterwards learned, lots of the German phrases I did pick up were in Schwabisch, the dialect spoken in the state of Baden-Wurttemberg, where Stuttgart is the capital and where a large Mercedes celebrity sits atop the key train-station tower.

The place itself is easy to get to. On my trip, I came in neighbouring Boblingen in the Frankfurt Airport in just under two hours with a Rail Europe pass, valid on trains and local transit. A five-minute walk in the Boblingen train station and a 10-minute walk into Mercedes’ Welcome Centre is your nostalgic and beautifully appointed V8 Resort, complete with vehicle-themed rooms. Section of Motorworld, the website is at a reclaimed airport full of hundreds of models, makes of museum quality and revived “old timers” — many for sale.

Meanwhile, Stuttgart, that is a 20-minute train ride away, provides enough distraction for days, from wineries, to castles, to museums, to more automobile production. (Porsche’s roots are also in the region.)

Definitely, the most impressive of those institutions is the colossal and architecturally significant Mercedes-Benz museum in the Neckarpark. The building holds an overwhelming historic collection that starts with a replica of the world’s first car — Karl Benz’s three-wheeled, single-cylinder, four-stroke car built nearby. Leave yourself plenty of time to walk through the 16,500-square-metre area, full of about 1,500 displays.

On tour of this museum, I fill my laptop with direct Vivien’s remarks, but her paraphrasing of Daimler AG’s Chairman of the Board of Management Dieter Zetsche keeps resonating as I wander about on my own afterward: “We will see more changes in cars in the next 10 years than we have seen in the previous 100.”

Should you go

The walk into the Mercedes plant from Motorworld and the V8 Hotel is about 10 minutes. There is also a free bus that runs frequently from the train station. Even better, purchase a Benz in Canada on the “Tourist Delivery Programme,” collect it in Sindelfingen and spend a week or three buzzing around Europe, then return it for shipping to Canada. After the plant tour, plan another day for the Mercedes-Benz museum that’s on the opposite side of Greater Stuttgart. Adult admission is $10 ($15 Canadian), with an English tour, $15. Evening admission is $4.50. Curiously, Mercedes-Benz Museum ticket holders get a 25-per-cent discount in the Porsche Museum.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Everything you should know about driving on winter tires

04 Dec 17
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I’m considering getting winter tires this season for the first time. Can they feel different to push on? Will I need to adjust my driving? — Jackie, Kelowna, B.C.

As soon as you slip winter tires to your vehicle, you will need to get used to slipping less on the street. But that does not mean you’re invincible.

“You could drive the exact same and you might be amazed by the stopping distance you’ve got,” said Angelo DiCicco, general manager with Young Drivers of Canada. “They might be a bit noisier and they might feel slightly clunkier around turns — but you should see that as being sure-footed.”

Young Drivers did evaluations of five distinct kinds of tires on sheer ice, and the winter tire stopped four car lengths shorter, DiCicco said. “They are not magic, but they are close to magic,” he said.

A quick refresher on : While treads vary based on whether the tire was made to be better in certain conditions — such as snow, ice or slush — winter tires made in the past decade are made out of rubber that grips better on cold streets.

Unlike normal tires which get tougher — and lose their grip on the street — when it gets colder than 7 degrees Celsius outside, the rubber in winter tires is designed to remain soft so tires can keep their gripping power to -40C.

“It is surely the single most important differentiation between today’s winter tires and winter tires of yore,” stated Glenn Maidment, president of the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC), an industry group representing .

Despite the fact that winter tires assist you stick better to streets, you need to stick to being careful, Maidment said.

“There is no difference in how you drive — but what you do not need is for people to have overconfidence and believe they could somehow test the limits of the driving and the car,” Maidment said. “They always have to drive to the state of the streets — and if they do, they will realize their steering is sharper, they will have more control and better stopping distanc”

If roads are especially arctic, heavy with new snow — or if it is tough to see — which might mean , with or without winter tires.

“You will need to keep that additional level of security,” DiCicco said. “You need to make a compromise when you buy winter tires and select whether they are excellent on snow, really good on ice or really good on slush — so your choice might not be ideal for that unexpected patch of ice”

Greater likelihood of getting rear-ended?

In TRAC’s of winter tire use across Canada, 60 percent of motorists outside Quebec — where winter tires are compulsory — said they are using winter tires.

While that’s up from 35 percent in 1998, it suggests that even if you have winter tires, you’re going to be sharing the road with motorists that do not.

“I liken it to inoculation,” Maidment said. “If everybody is inoculated, everybody is safe. If just two-thirds are, they are not.”

In actuality, because you are going to be quitting shorter on winter tires compared to the motorist behind you may expect, your odds of becoming rear-ended are greater, DiCicco said.

“The man behind you might be cheap and does not know that investing up front on winter tires will prolong the life span of his summer tires,” DiCicco said. “And so he can not stop as quickly at his summer tires as possible on your winter tire and he could hit you.”

And it doesn’t matter whether this driver has all-wheel drive (AWD). It doesn’t really make automobiles safer on winter streets. It enables you to get going quicker in deep snow, but it will not help with quitting. In actuality, cars with AWD are usually heavier and may have more momentum — and take more time to stop — compared to cars without it.

That is why it’s important to keep additional distance between your vehicle and the car in front of you at the winter, interval, DiCicco said.

How close should you be? It’s difficult to correctly judge metres or car lengths when you are driving, DiCicco said.

Instead, once the car in front of you pushes beyond something — a road sign, shadow of an overpass or a bus shelter, state — count out the amount of seconds before you pass it.

On perfect summer streets under perfect conditions (“it is sunny but not too sunny”), you should be after a minimum of 2 seconds behind the vehicle in front of you at city speeds, three seconds at highway speeds and four seconds on entry ramps, where cars often slow or stop abruptly, DiCicco said.

“In the winter, you would like to add one second to all these — so, three, four and five,” DiCicco said. “Those additional seconds can allow you to mitigate the risk in the other drivers that do not have their winter tires.”

Even with that 3 seconds of distance in town, once you’re stopping at an intersection or slowing to turn, start slowing down early to provide the driver behind you sufficient time to respond and stop, DiCicco said.

“When you come to an amber light, you will need to slow down sooner,” DiCicco said. “Monitor your mirrors — as the man behind you’re [sliding] toward you.”

If you have left enough space in front of you, you are able to move ahead three or four yards to permit the vehicle behind you to slide to a stop.

“You move up 1 space and everyone gets to go home safely,” DiCicco said. “It is not based on your performance or your own skills, which might be stellar — it is being a great neighbour and maintaining that extra distance for someone who screws up. And, hopefully, someone will do the exact same for you.”

Have a compelling question? Send it to . Canada’s a big place, so please let us know where you are so we can get the answer for your town and state.

Shopping for a new car? Take a look at the brand new to find the hottest discounts, rebates and rates on new cars, trucks and SUVs. To receive your price.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Honda’s Insider Experience lets Acura NSX owners get to know their supercar

03 Dec 17
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It’s been nearly 40 years since Honda became the first major Japanese automobile manufacturer to open an assembly plant stateside. In 1979, the company began building the Honda CR250R Elsinore motocross bicycle here in Marysville. Three decades later, just up the street, it started a one-million-square-foot centre to meet demand for the popular Accord family sedan. In 2016, it christened another plant in the heart of middle America, a state-of-the-art location at which the Acura NSX hybrid supercar is piecednbsp;collectively.

There is no denying that Honda is a proud business. Company founder Soichiro Honda, an engineer himself, constructed an engineering-led outfit and he is commended to this day, his estimates on screen in the pristine Acura Performance Manufacturing Center (PMC). But there’s also plenty of homegrown pride innbsp;Ohio.

The NSX is billed as being “the sole supercar designed, engineered and manufactured in America” and all markets around the world are served with this 1 facility. Most the PMC workers are plucked from other Honda plants — the best of the best. The twin-turbocharged V-6 engine is hand-built from the nearby city of Anna, affixed to the dual-clutch automatic transmission and rear drive electric motor, and then trucked to Marysville.

The technology staff at Honda Ramp;D Americas (also situated just up the street) led the development of the vehicle. It spent upward of 200 days per year testing prototypes on several roads and paths around the world. The design of the NSX emerged from the Acura Design Studio in Torrance, Calif., and has been led by Michelle Christensen, the first female supercar designer innbsp;background.

So the second-generation Acura NSX remains a Japanese supercar — but additionally, it is American to the core. Now, to better experience this team effort, the maker has introduced the NSX Insider Experience, an exclusive program for clients who have purchased the hybrid halo car. This exceptional program encourages the lucky few owners to travel to Ohio — not always a spot near the top of your normal bucket list — to find out about the Acura NSX, making it tick and how to drive itnbsp;fast.

The NSX is what Honda likes to call a “pinnacle merchandise” and pinnacle is an apt descriptor. The hybrid powertrain of the NSX joins the twin-turbocharged 3.5-litre V-6 with electric motors at each front wheel and a third straight drive engine bonded to the transmission. Overall system horsepower rings in at 573, while torque amounts to 476 lb-ft, much of it accessible early because of the rapid response of the electrical motors. The NSX also showcases a dead-simple launch control system, torque-vectoring all-wheel drive and four different drive modes which range from all-electric tonbsp;full-bore.

As part of their experience, clients can get a better sense of what their new car is going to do on a closed circuit with a professional driver riding shotgun. In my case, the (un)blessed soul is Jason Widmer, the chief engineer responsible for the car’s development. For the client experience, guests have the option of either four or two hours worth of tracknbsp;forcing.

My time behind the wheel provides hardly enough opportunity to frighten my co-driver. A quick, 225-km/h burst along a high-banked oval at the test centre is a snooze for Widmer — he has established a version of the NSX around at more than 300 km/h. Four laps round the 16-turn street course have him gripping his door handle for assistance, sure, but he has assaulted this track with more verve before also. (Long, black tire marks that trail off into the grass at the end of the speediest straight are hisnbsp;handiwork.)

Driving the NSX serves to remind me what a fantastic car it is: an authentic supercar, loaded to the teeth with trickery and technologies. Additionally, it makes me want more time behind the wheel to correctly test the ability of the strong regenerative brake system, to come to grips with the eye-opening grasp of the torque-vectoring system using its electrical motors churning away at each front wheel. It can be a bewildering car to explain; it is perhaps an even harder automobile tonbsp;master.

The drive element of the NSX Insider Expertise is what will likely draw many clients. However, the trip to the Honda Heritage Center is intriguing in and of itself — it captures the unbelievable assortment of goods Honda has made through time, from lawn mowers and snow blowers to business jets and supercars. The tour of the engine plant in Anna will resonate with the most frenzied of gearheads. But if the timing functions, the factory tour is where the consumer might be encouraged to apply a finishing touch with their NSX as it comes off the assembly line — and that is the sort of thing money can not normallynbsp;purchase.

The NSX Insider Experience gives the choice of six unique packages, ranging in cost from $1,990 (U.S.) to $7,576. Clients coming to Ohio from elsewhere may also receive help with everything from flight reservations to hotel rooms and dinnernbsp;plans.

The author was a guest of the automobile maker. Content wasn’t subject tonbsp;acceptance.

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With a few exceptions, an out-of-province ticket will go on your record

27 Nov 17
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I live in Ontario but I am in British Columbia temporarily for work and am driving a rental car. I was issued a $135 speeding ticket for going 84 km/h at a 50 km/h zone. Can this offence and the demerits be added to my Ontario driving record? — Cheryl

If you had been caught speeding in any other state or territory, you would be receiving demerits in your Ontario licence.

But what happens in British Columbia, remains in British Columbia.

“B.C. offences by out-of-province drivers aren’t shared with other authorities,” Lindsay Olsen, spokeswoman for Insurance Corp. of British Columbia, said in an email.

The Canadian Driver Licence Compact (CDLC) is a 1990 agreement to discuss driving records between the states and territories.

Everybody signed it except B.C., Quebec and Nunavut.

In British Columbia, that means out-of-province drivers won’t have B.C. tickets added to their driving records — and vice versa. “If a B.C. driver were to be given a violation ticket — for instance, a speeding ticket — out of our state, it wouldn’t be added to their driving record in B.C.,” Olsen said.

The exception? Criminal Code convictions, for example , appear on all provincial and territorial driving documents “… therefore it could be added to a driver’s record in B.C., regardless of where in Canada the offence happened,” Olsen said.

Share and share alike?

But in most other state, offences away from home will get added to a driving record, the same like they had happened at home.

By way of instance, if you reside in Ontario and get a speeding ticket in Saskatchewan, you would find the equivalent number of added to your licence. And the opposite is true.

“Saskatchewan belongs to [the CDLC] in which the guiding principle is one driver, 1 driver’s licence and one driver record,” stated Tyler McMurchy, spokesman for Saskatchewan Government Insurance, in an email. “This agreement furthers highway safety by treating similar convictions and administrative sanctions that happened in 1 province like they had happened in the driver’s home state”

That includes demerits. Demerits are strikes against your driving record — if you , your license will be suspended. The rules for how out-of-province demerits are implemented vary by state.

According to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation , just — such as speeding, failure to obey a stop sign or signal, and failure to stop for a school bus — will get added to a Ontario licence.

But that does not mean an Ontario driver’s record will remain unscathed if they are caught speeding in Quebec.

Quebec and Ontario have their own reciprocal record-sharing , meaning all offences — and demerits — will be shared between the two provinces.

Exterior of the CDLC, some states have their own agreements with American nations. Ontario has agreements with New York and Michigan, while has arrangements with Maine and New York.

If you don’t cover

And if you do not cover your out-of-province speeding ticket?

It varies. In British Columbia, the state can find a collection agency to go after out-of-province drivers to the outstanding fine, Olsen said.

Provinces also have the capacity to experience the Canada Revenue Agency and choose the sum due from GST rebates and income tax refunds, McMurchy said.

Even if driving documents are shared between authorities, your home province can not keep you from renewing your driver’s license or registration for an outstanding ticket from another state, how it would for an at home. Bu if you return to a province in which you have outstanding tickets, you might get pulled over.

“In Ontario, MTO doesn’t have the ability to force the driver to cover an out-of-province ticket,” said Brian Smiley, spokesman for Manitoba Public Insurance. “If the driver returns to Manitoba, Manitoba doesn’t have the authority to suspend the out-of-province driver — but the driver could be arrested by authorities.”

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For Canada 150, Porsche goes on an unforgettable drive to the East Coast

26 Nov 17
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Porsche does not assert its guided tours are cheap, but it does guarantee they will be unforgettable — and it’ll be tricky to forget this year’s Canada 150nbsp;Tour.

There were not many takers for the 10-day collapse drive from Toronto to Halifax, but the two couples and two single drivers who signed up were enthusiastic fans of the new. They had to be: It cost $12,000 per person, plus airfares, to signnbsp;up.

“We dithered a great deal on this due to the cost,” said Paz Fernando, a podiatrist from Winnipeg and confessed Porsche Snob who flew in with his wife Lisa. “We thought of going on the Provence Porsche excursion, or possibly Morocco before it was cancelled — I feel that the mountain roads shattered the Cayennes — but we wanted to find the East Coast. We have nevernbsp;been.”

And in case you can, it is a good idea to drive there in a . The culmination of the tour was in the Cabot Trail, 300 kilometres of Cape Breton curves. Along the way, the four cars with different hosts and guides visited Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City, before going through New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island to Novanbsp;Scotia.

Since Porsche’s website stated, Canada’s “world-class cities, rich history, vibrant coastlines, rugged terrain, and lush, understated wilderness provide new sights and sounds with each turn. And during each new experience, you are going to rely on one thing and one thing just to get you there — anbsp;Porsche.”

The idea appealed to JoAnn Van Engelen, a twice-widowed Boxster and Macan proprietor from southwestern Ontario; she is taking advantage of her liberty now that the family farm was sold and the children have left home. She is still frugal, however. “I saw it and thought, well, this is excellent, until I got to the cost, and I thought, ‘Oh,'” Van Engelennbsp;stated.

“And I thought, well, what about just knowing where they begin and after along? But then I have got to do resorts, and I didn’t have any clue how they are filling in the remaining hours. I spoke to my children about it and they said: ‘Oh mother, justnbsp;proceed.'”

The resorts are top-notch (the Andaz in Ottawa, the Queen Elizabeth in Montreal, that type of thing) and the food is high end, but the participants saw these as distractions in the driving. “We’d rather skip lunch, we are here for the cars,” said Paz Fernando. “Let us get out of bed early and get on it while we have access to thenbsp;street.”

This was the couple’s fifth Porsche tour in as many years, after trips to Italy for the Stelvio Pass and Romania for the Transfagasaran street, among others. “These excursions work best when everyone gets along and nobody takes themselves too seriously,” said Lisa Fernando, before dissing on a prima donna in Romania who ticked offnbsp;everybody.

Here in Canada, everybody did get together. The tour was rounded out with a Chinese property developer from Seattle and a wealthy Australian couple who take part in a number of such trips annually, and everyone agreed they would like more driving, with fewer citynbsp;tours.

The cars, after all, were terrific: Porsche 911 Carrera 4Ss, the same $150,000 cars used for Porsche’s performance driving school. Porsche offers a lot of different “customer experience” events each year, including performance driving schools at racetracks and brief tours that finish at racetracks. Internationally, Porsche offers many events and tours. This 3,000-kilometre drive to the East Coast to commemorate Canada’s 150th birthday, however, was anbsp;original.

“It is more of a branding exercise, building the brand and building the connection these attendees have with Porsche, and providing them a lifelong memory,” stated Daniel Ponzini of Porsche Cars Canada. “There’s a business case for all these events, such as all drive experience occasions, but it does more — it exposes clients to various styles of automobile and reveals them newer vehicles. It builds the brand in a differentnbsp;mild.”

There were originally 20 available spots for the one-off Canada 150 Tour but only half were sold. There was some grumbling during the driveway once the cars were in procession on the Trans-Canada Highway, sticking to the speed limit, but when possible, the manuals would leave the multi-lane highway and discover a country road with smooth asphalt and tightnbsp;corners.

In the end of it all, there was the promise of the Cabot Trail, Canada’s crown jewel of driving streets. “The deeper we got into the Maritimes, the greater the streets and the attitudes obtained,” remembered Paz Fernando afterwards in an email, following the trip was complete and everyone returnednbsp;dwelling.

“Obviously, the Holy [Cabot] Path was the highlight and rescue for 2 stubborn black SUVs that blocked us for a while from the Keltic Inn on the next day, the drive was the best. And lobsters and oysters were shown nonbsp;mercy.”

The author was a guest of the automobile maker. Content wasn’t subject tonbsp;acceptance.

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Japan aims to show Autonomous Vehicles off at 2020 Summer Olympics

20 Nov 17
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The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo will be a showcase for autonomous vehicles if Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gets his wish. He needs fleets of self-driving taxis, trucks, buses and personal vehicles on Tokyo streets, even ferrying the athletes, from the time the world descends on thenbsp;city.

With an aging population and an economy bouncing in and out of recession, Abe sees the Olympics as an opportunity to encourage Japanese companies to devote andnbsp;innovate.

The absence of legal framework for self-driving cars remains a barrier for their roll-out in Canada and the rest of the world, but Abe’s government is working on guidelines to clear a legal course. Tokyo aims to get the required legislation .

At the Tokyo Motor Show last month, Lexus introduced a — known as LS — which will be available in 2020. The car’s “Highway Teammate” system, which has been in testing on public roads in Japan since 2015, allows “automatic driving on highways from on-ramp all the way through the off-ramp,” and can perform manoeuvres like merging on the street, changing lanes and overtaking without motorist help. However, it is not clear if such a system would require responsibility in the driver (as at a Society of Automotive Engineers Level-3 autonomous vehicle) or when the machine would behave just as an assistant to an individual driver (SAEnbsp;Level-2).

“Level-3 … is in limbo,” said Kiyotaka Ise, chief safety officer and head of research and development for Toyota. “Maybe Level-4 will make better sense. We are concurrently developing alternatives for bothnbsp;degrees.”

In Level-4, the human does not have to be prepared to resume control. Ise mentioned the car-to-driver handover time and human-machine port as the biggest technical hurdles. For the Olympics, ” he said, Toyota would like to have prototype vehicles using its “Urban Teammate” system on the street. These vehicles would provide automated driving not only on highways but in cities,nbsp;also.

Nissan is also targeting 2020 for the development of its autonomous technologies. The business intends to have cars on the road that provide driver-supervised automation in cities and in intersections, as Globe Drive has .

Carlos Ghosn, Nissan’s CEO, told reporters in Tokyo that the Japanese government appears to be the most willing to adopt autonomous driving technology. “The technology will be mass-marketed when authorities want it,” he said. “Our job is to ensure that the technology is ready. So, I am telling you, it’ll be prepared bynbsp;2020.”

For 2020, Ghosn is ambitiously planning to get autonomous city driving accessible. Before then, he said, will also have autonomous highway driving and traffic jam help.

Toyota is one of the principal international sponsors of the 2020 Olympics, and Ghosn has been vocal about his aspirations for Nissan. By comparison, Honda has not made much of a splash in the autonomous automobile world. The business is targeting 2020 to get a car that could take control in restricted highway conditions (Level-3) and 2025 because of its .

Subaru was among the first companies to provide advanced driver-assistance using its EyeSight stereo-camera system. In Japan, Subaru offers vehicles with Tesla-like highway-only autopilot functionality. While the company has not announced anything special for the Olympics, Subaru’s Viziv concept from the Tokyo Motor Show is thought to preview the next development of EyeSight. For 2020, the machine will acquire radar and precise digital maps, which Subaru claims will allow for automatic lane-changes in certainnbsp;states.

It’s important to not forget that all the new semi-autonomous technology being talked about are confined to certain environments — certain geo-fenced zones or highways-only or intersections-only — and specific (good) weather. Consumer vehicles without steering wheels are a ways off. We are talking baby stepsnbsp;here.

“2020 is just 3 years down the road; it is not too long,” said Toru Saito, president of Audi Japan. “I don’t think we are going to make a quantum jump to autonomous driving [bynbsp;then].”

Realistically, he said, there’ll be Level-3 vehicles on the street; Audi already has that technology in its A8 sedan. The only catch is Level-3 systems are not legal; not yet, anyhow. “I believe they’re going to change the law to adapt autonomous driving by 2020,” said Saito. “That is the government’s goal.”

To encourage development of autonomous vehicles, the Japanese government is working to make detailed digital maps of the country’s road network, which it expects to have finished for thenbsp;Games.

The last time Japan hosted the Olympics, in 1964, the Games spurred the nation forward both socially and economically. That year, the Olympics saw the introduction of Japan’s now-famous Shinkansen bullet train. Legalizing Level-3 cars might be the real breakthrough fornbsp;2020.

“The one thing to learn about Japan is that, if it sets its mind on something, it is going to do it,” said Stephen Beatty, vice-president of Toyota Canada. “Individuals align to those big objectives. If this were North America … the jury would be out on our capacity to handle it. But I never, ever, underestimate Japan’s ability to establish targets and hitnbsp;the”

Car companies are proficient at producing hype without necessarily having the ability to follow through. This time, however, they have the support of Japan’s government, and the world will benbsp;viewing.

The author was a guest of Audi at the Tokyo Motor Show. Content wasn’t subject tonbsp;acceptance.

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What’s the purpose of maintaining winter-tire rims?

13 Nov 17
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Why does everybody with winter tires have ugly black steel rims? Why don’t you just put winter tires on your present wheels and change them back in the autumn? If they are on their own rims, they are only a whole lot heavier to carry around. Is there any other purpose I am missing? — Sean, Toronto

There are real reasons to get winter tires. The largest is safety. They’re demonstrated to shorten stopping distances on ice and snow. And, in Ontario, your insurance company is needed to offer you a discount if you use them.

But why would you need to set your winter tires on their own wheels?

“Having tires mounted and demounted semi-annually is a significant strain on the tire itself,” said David Weatherhead, automotive professor at Centennial College in Toronto. “Especially with lower-profile tires, it stresses the rubber around the bead of the tire and can cause damaging the rubber, which in turn may result in tire degradation and, thus, leaks.”

The reason you see so many of these black wheels? Compared with expensive alloys, black steel is a steal.

“Many people will choose the steel alternative as steel rims are, actually, less costly,” Weatherhead said.

Based on the size you’re looking for, you may probably find basic black steel wheels starting at about $50 to $80 each. Even the least expensive aluminum alloy wheels — that look a bit closer to what your car came with — could cost up to three times as much.

Wheel deal?

Another huge reason people choose winter wheels? You will save money when you set your winter tires in the fall — and take them off at the spring.

“It differs between areas, but you would probably be saving $75 to $100 a year if they are already on the rims as it’s less work, so it is less of a fee for us to get it done,” said Geoff Wiebe, a Regina-based tire expert with Kal Tire.

But whether you find yourself saving money over all is dependent upon how much you spend on these wheels.

“We do find it is less and less financially reasonable for customers to get tires,” said Blair Martin, a supervisor with OK Tire at Vancouver. “A lot will take up to eight years to recoup the investment.”

And, if your vehicle needs Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) detectors, those can cost $70 or more a wheel.

Your vehicle’s TPMS system monitors tire pressure and warns you — with a yellowish light — when it’s 25 per cent under the pressure recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer.

There are two types of methods: direct and indirect. Direct uses sensors in each wheel which send signals to your car’s computer.

Indirect doesn’t utilize sensors — it uses information from the anti-lock brake (ABS) system to find out how quickly your wheels are spinning. If tires get smaller due to a sudden flow, they will spin faster which will trigger the tire pressure warning.

A variety of automobile manufacturers are using indirect systems, but if you’ve got a direct system, the detectors for all four wheels could cost $280 or more. Add this to the cost of the cheapest steel wheels and you may be paying more than $500 alone only for for that winter pair of wheels. That is on top of everything you paid for your winter tires.

And if you do not get detectors? That light remains on all winter. For a good deal of people, that is well worth the savings.

“Many people opt to leave the light on, which in itself is a risky choice,” Weatherhead said. ” [You are] losing an excess degree of security that the maker had built in for security and fuel-economy purposes.”

Small savings?

There is another way winter wheels could help you save money. With , a smaller set of winter wheels can allow you to purchase , possibly cheaper winter tires.

“Frequently, bicycle stores will have 16-inch or 17-inch packages that match the car,” Weatherhead said. “Care should be taken to make sure it’s an approved size for your vehicle in addition to an approved tire speed rating.”

Minus sizing also enables you to place on thicker winter tires with deeper treads — compared with the low-profile tires your car comes together — which manage better in snow.

But that different tire size could take some getting used to, Weatherhead said.

“Changing the speed rating and tire size will affect the car’s handling characteristics and might make the vehicle perform considerably different in maneuvers like cornering,” he said.

Protection from salt?

Placing your winter tires on their own wheels means that the wheels your car came with get to spend winter indoors, safe from road salt which can corrode them, Weatherhead said.

But washing your car regularly will lower your likelihood of wheel damage, ” said Calvin Feist, automotive instructor at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton.

“Road salt will harm alloy wheels, but it is going to damage steel wheels also,” Feist said. “You simply need to clean your car or truck frequently and the wheels will last and look great for quite a long time.”

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail