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february 201
4 newsletter

The Road Ahead
Connected vehicles can help to prevent crashes at busy intersections.

The coming car-to-car communications requirements are just a sample of what is in store for drivers.

"Cars in need of repairs will call a repair center for instructions and do the repairs themselves." Not a high priority in the industry, it is just a fall-out of the growing "internet of things," as reported by Janna Anderson in the Club of Amsterdam Journal for February 2014. She is the Director of the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University and lead author of the Pew Internet & American Life Project "Future of the Internet." In that same issue a "Wickipedia For Robots," posting describes a "RoboEarth as a World Wide Web for robots: a giantRoboEarth Illustrated network and database repository where robots can share information and learn from each other about their behavior and their environment. The goal of RoboEarth is to allow robotic systems to benefit from the experience of other robots, paving the way for rapid advances in machine cognition and behavior, and ultimately, for more subtle and sophisticated human-machine interaction." Still more in the same issue on cars and the future is a description of urban mobility shaped and facilitated by the Internet to link all forms of transportation in ways that save travel time, energy costs and congestion.

Of course there is a downside to this progress as Neil Winton describes in his European Perspective column in the Nov. 30 Detroit News. He says: "Cars that are driven by their computers will have massive social and industrial ramifications, and they will be ubiquitous by 2025. In addition to pluses he notes that taxis, bus companies, railroads and short-haul airlines will lose business. And, he says that when it becomes obvious that car computerization works, short-term rentals will boom and bring sleepless nights to carmakers.


road signs

Change begets change that begets technology, distribution and content ceaselessly interacting to expand and intensify our communications. Brian Sena, commenting on this phenomenon in Marketing Daily says it has given rise to "info-lust ... the insatiable desire for information." This lust puts pressure on media companies like Facebook to chase the new class of consumer, The "info-sumer." Witness the $19 billion Facebook paid for WhatsApp, a 55-person mobile messaging startup that caught the fancy of young people.

The Infosumer

According to Steve Smith in Mobile Insider, analysts find it difficult to justify the price by using conventional metrics but, "as it did with its Instagram purchase, Facebook is fighting user ennui with the social network by buying the next big thing." And it shores up an area where Facebook was weak: mobile messaging.

Mobile video traffic on the Internet will grow 14 times in the next four years, according to Cisco, Daisy Whitney reports in Video Insider. Poynter News writer Rick Edmonds says the Washington Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal are making timely moves to digital video programs because audiences are moving from desktop to mobile, where video accounts for a much larger share of news consumption, up to 50 percent according to one study. Advertiser demand is robust and expanding, and the going rates ($25 per thousand impressions is typical) are multiples higher than what static banner ads command." Edmonds believes "the top national news organizations are still building their franchise on comprehensive reports and editorial judgment but they also want a piece of the action in personal brands like those Andrew Sullivan or Josh Marshall have built on digital-only sites."

Oren Harnevo writing in Marketing Daily, believes, "As video moves beyond TV and has become an essential tool in the digital world, brands can connect with their customers and use data to make storytelling more personal and impactful. They can use data to create engaging narrative, dynamic sound and interactive graphics to convey a brand message. This is great progress, but digital video ads have only scratched the surface of their potential. The big opportunity lies in the ability to use data to tell a different and more relevant story for each individual consumer."

The growth in the number and speed of 24/7 Internet outlets magnifies the demand for content Ė a demand that is intensified by an increasing ability to identify and target individual audience preferences, providing opportunity for more content providers, including bloggers. Once questionable sources they, are now accepted. In fact, "Bloggers who are accused of libel are entitled to the same rights as members of the mainstream media," Wendy Davis reports in Online Media Daily. She quotes from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on the subject: "The protections of the First Amendment do not turn on whether the defendant was a trained journalist, formally affiliated with traditional news entities, engaged in conflict-of-interest disclosure, went beyond just assembling othersí writings, or tried to get both sides of a story."


pit notes

Shelby 289 FIA Cobra

The Chevy Spark was the only mini car to get passing marks among 11 tested recently by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, according to David Shepardson in the Detroit News. Stating the obvious, the headline read, "Small cars fare badly in crash tests." Shepardson provides a thorough description of the four evaluations in the test and rankings of the 11cars checked . . . MotorAuthority reports the 50th Anniversary of the introduction of the FIA version of the small block Cobra, the 289 FIA Cobra, prompts a continuation series by Shelby American. Only 50 will be built on order, starting at $94,995. See for more information.

If the price seems too high you may want to check out 24/7 Wall Streetís list of "The 10 Cities Where No One Wants to Drive" by Alexander E.M. Hess and Thomas C. Frohlic.  While the title is an overstatement, it is based on households without a car (New York City has the most (56.5%), quality of public transportation, including bicycles, walk-ability and other factors such as weather and fuel costs. And, it would seem to support the slight trend away from car ownership and the prospects for GoCar and other "drive 'n drop" enterprises which are said to be a real threat to carmakerís employment and sales.

Tesla Model S

Tesla took no chances with its recent cross-country drive of two Model S sedans. Instead of the usual press test drivers, they relied on Tesla employees to demonstrate that, thanks to the network of 85 Supercharger stations the company has installed along the nationís freeways, the classic road trip can be accomplished in an electric car, Fossils & Photons reports in a reprint of a San Francisco Chronicle story by David Baker. . . For those that bought into the idea young Americans are losing their interest in cars, Paul A. Eisenstein reports in the Detroit Bureau that a study by Deloitte LLP reveals itís the economy that dampens the Millennials' enthusiasm for a set of wheels. Only one in ten of the Gen-Yers surveyed said they donít plan to ever lease or buy a car. Most of the others hope to afford one in the next three years.

Craig Fitzgeraldís recent posting in the Bold Ride tells of Germanyís version of the U.S.A's AAA, the 19 million-member ADAC, going vastly astray when announcing the results of voting for Germanyís favorite cars. When audited by accounting firm Deloitte, the actual vote total was less than 10% of the number announced and some of the favored cars didnít make it to the top five. Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and BMW returned the awards they did get. Fitzgerald wryly notes our simpler way of bestowing these types of awards, "ad dollars result in awards from some of the most influential magazines in the country."


mac gordon

Ford Added to Self-driving Cars Research List


Research groups for launch of hands-free cars have added Ford to their ranks with the Fusion brand as their test model. This team also includes Stanford University, State Farm and MIT as charter partners, with a leader being Paul Mascarenas, Ford's chief technical officer.

This team, said Mascarenas in a launch statement, is working on providing test cars with "common sense responses to driving situations via sensors to realize what is ahead in traffic and make evasive measures if needed."

The newly expanded team will field self-driving cars by 2020 if not sooner. Four states allow such cars to operate - CA, FL, MI and NV. State Farm is drawing up insurance clauses to facilitate testing of the hands-off cars and the first team to engage in such testing already has begun on-road testing, with University of Michigan partners being Toyota, University of California, Nissan and a scoop report on the project in The New Yorker magazine.

Insurance policy clauses on driver liability accidents and injury clauses should pose challenges unheard-of in the insurance industry, according to U of M researchers and the Center for Automotive Research, also based in Ann Arbor.

Among the projects GM's new CEO, Mary Barra, has worked on are the ones involving hands-free navigation, which is progressing at GM's tech center in Warren, MI. She plans to visit GM facilities worldwide and encourage development programs like the one concerning driving without hand controls.

The Center of Automotive Research is deeply involved in "self-driving" as well as digital connectivity and perfected safety programs, and Barra benefits from her long associations with GM engineers and designers. She is a graduate, moreover, of GM's College in Flint, MI, and is one of the corporation's first CEOs with technical know-how.

It's quite a stretch to defend self-driving as free from the risks 100%. But millions of the world's drivers will receive greater mobility with these safer drivability systems.


lane changes

John Neff has left as its Editor-in-Chief after over nine years in that position. He is succeeded at AOL, the siteís parent company, by Sharon Silke Carty, who also succeeded former AOL Autos Editor-in-Chief David Kiley and who is now in charge of both properties. I am exploring many new opportunities, am available for consulting and can be reached at . . . Paul Barry replaced Karen Gamble at the Vicksburg Post. Send auto news to him at: . . . .When Joe Tetherow signed off at Toyota after 40 years in automotive PR, he really did go off the clock. His photo, expected months ago, arrived the day after AW reported his retirement in the January 2014 newsletter. . . . David Wallens is an added contact at Classic Motorsports Magazine. He can be emailed at: . . . If you are having trouble emailing someone at Consumer Reports try first initial last name at . . . . Send news for the Del Rio (TX) News Herald to Publisher . . . With Gerald Scottís departure, email . . . . . .Donald Farr of MUSTANG MONTHLY, Jeff Smith of CAR CRAFT and John Cappa of FOUR WHEELER are among the reported 100 employees let go by Source Interlink between its Irvine, El Segundo and Florida offices. Its Modified magazine has ceased publication as well Bill Metten reviews cars for The Hunt, one of three upscale magazines by the publisher of Main Line and Delaware Today. His email contact is: Kevin A. Wilson is a busy freelancer so trying one of the outlets where his work appears is not as certain as: . . . . Ted Kade, editor of Auto Restorer Magazine, can be emailed at: . . . Jeff Voth, who writes for has a new email address: . . . Kara Philp is the editor of Arizona AAA. Her email is: . . . Jennifer Maguire has replaced Mike Caddell as the print & digital production editor for AAA Mid-Atlantic. She can be emailed:  . . . Kristen Gray has departed The Afro-American and news should be sent to executive editor Avis Thomas-Lester at: . . .Damon Lavrincís new email is . . . . Zach Bowman is now a web editor for . . . . Diaro Las Americas in Miami is now owned by Venezuelan Associates. Email should be sent to Allison Berry is the automotive writer at the Galveston News. Email her: . . . Senior Editor Philly Murtha has departed J.D. Power Associates and Syvetril Perrymen at: is the contact. If you have trouble emailing radio host David Finkelstein in St. Louis, try  . . . Sean Bugg no longer writes Gears column for The Metro Weekly and news should be sent to Randy Shulman at: . . . Freelancer Bryan Joslin has a new email: . . . . Kelley Blue Book road test editor Joseph Santohas left the company and managing editor Jason Allan is handling his mail: . . . Former Orlando Sentinel auto writer Greg Dawson has left the paper. Send auto news to: . . . Freelancer Mike Twistís new email is:  . . . Lafayette Hightower, and the MotorMan column are gone from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. . . . Carter Macleod supplants Rachel E. Smith at U.S.News. Email: . . . Dana Hull is an auto contact for the San Jose Mercury News and Contra Costa Group.


- 30-

Glenn Campbell, Owner, Publisher

Glenn F. Campbell

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