Bloomberg is currently reporting, “Self-driving cars being planned by Google and global automakers may help counter slumping demand from younger customers by tapping the fastest-growing demographic in the world’s largest vehicle markets: the elderly.” Baby Boomers are all quickly joining the elderly in both the US and abroad in strong markets like Japan, where an ever-increasing number of older drivers are being hurt and killed in auto accidents.
In an industry conference last week GM and Toyota both emphasized as many as 90 percent of traffic accidents caused by human error, therefore a key benefit of the automation technology is boosting safety. Japan, the world’s fastest-aging major economy and the third-largest car market, is leading the accident trend: of the 4,411 people who died on the road in the country last year, more than half, or 2,264, were 65 or older, according to data from the National Police Agency. “Driver-assistance and autonomous-driving technologies will definitely help stimulate demand among the elderly by assuring them driving can be very safe,’’ Zhou Lei, a senior manager and auto-industry consultant at Deloitte Tohmatsu Consulting Co. in Tokyo, said. ‘‘What’s happening in Japan will also occur in the U.S. and especially emerging countries like China, and the demand will be huge.” On Oct. 10 Toyota says it will introduce systems in about two years, which will enable cars to communicate with each other to avoid collisions. General Motors is planning vehicles by 2020 that will be able to drive themselves on controlled-access highways. Nissan is planning to introduce a self-driving vehicle by 2020. Google’s self-driving technology will help the elderly retain their freedom of mobility, said Anthony Levandowski, one of the leaders of the company’s autonomous-car project. “This technology restores the freedom that people can’t see. This system will drive old people to see their grandkids and see doctors.” The Institute for Traffic Accident Research has stated that although eliminating accidents completely may be impossible, traffic deaths may become a thing of the past. “Zero fatalities is definitely a feasible target. I would expect we can realize that around 2035.” How about you? Have you imagined riding in an auto piloted automobile? Is it something you’re looking forward to, or do you have reservations? Chances are you’ll have a chance to make that decision sooner than later.
Water pumps. We don’t think about them often, but they’re a really important part of our vehicles. Let’s take a step back. You see, the engine is cooled by a coolant, anti-freeze, mixed with water. This mixture circulates around your engine, absorbing some of the heat. The coolant then flows through the radiator, where air cools it down for the return trip back through the engine. The water pump is what drives this process.
In a feature column in the Wall Street Journal racing pioneer Denise McCluggage relates, “Of all the automobiles I’ve owned over my lifetime, I never imagined that for 20 years I would live with a car like the Suzuki Sidekick, or that I would love it so much.” Throughout the years McCluggage has owned an Alfa Romeo, a Porsche, a Jaguar, an MG, and a Ferrari.