Monthly Archives: April 2015

Want a more fuel efficient way to travel?

If you want better fuel economy, you’ll need to park you car and head to the airport.

Although traveling by plane can be pretty daunting these days thanks to long lines at the airport and cramped quarters in the cabin, a recent study from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute finds that taking flight is far more efficient than driving.

Researcher Michael Sivak bases his investigation on a measure called energy intensity, which is the amount needed to transport a single person over a distance. While cars were found to be less intense than planes in the ’70s, those numbers have completely changed, and driving had an energy intensity 2.07 times greater than domestic passenger flights in the US, according to 2012 figures.

We were still far away from making auto travel as efficient as flying was in 2012, as well. According to Sivak, the average fuel economy of the entire US light-duty fleet was 21.6 miles per gallon that year. To be in line with the energy intensity of flying, the number for cars would need to be 44.7 mpg, he calculated. We probably aren’t going to be close anytime soon, either. The UMTRI finds average new vehicle fuel economy of 25.4 mpg through March 2015 and 25.3 mpg for all of 2014.

You can keep in mind next time you’re crowded into a plane’s tiny seat that at least it’s a more energy efficient option than driving.

Read more here.

Does Uber trump the cost of car ownership?

Uber, the popular app-based service that pairs private drivers with riders, strives to usurp car ownership. But, this ambition doesn’t have car dealers losing sleep…yet.

In most cases, when a person drives more than 13,500 miles a year, car ownership is still ideal and ultimately cheaper than using ride-sharing, according to published reports that cite AAA, government and other data.

But what about commuters who travel less than 10,000 miles? At that point, depending on the price of the car payment, the price of gasoline, insurance costs, maintenance expenses, and so forth, the annual cost of car ownership might bump up against the annual amount spent on Uber, making the service a cheaper option.

The key word, however, is “ownership.”

According to, a national car leasing marketplace, leasing trumps Uber at 9,500 miles a year. Here is how breaks it out:

• Car lease monthly payments: $400 ($4,800 per year, including taxes).

• $1,344 in calculated fuel (assuming 9,500 miles per year at $3.50 per gallon and a 12 gallon car).

• Annual insurance fees in a lease may average $1,300 a year.

• $355 for maintenance.

At this rate, the lease customer would pay $7,799 per year. Whereas a customer using Uber to travel 9,500 miles a year in Los Angeles would pay more. Uber’s rate in Los Angeles, according to its website, is a $0 base fare, 18 cents per minute and 90 cents per mile.

If calculating just the mileage, that equals $8,550. A Swapalease spokesperson factors in the 18 cents per minute by averaging a mile per minute in every trip, amounting to an additional $1,710 using Uber, for a total of $10,260. She said if you average a more realistic half a mile per minute that would be an additional $3,420 added to the Uber price of $8,550, for a grand total: $11,970.

Of course, there are other costs tied to leasing a car such as any parking fees and perhaps traffic violations. They should be considered on that side of the equation.

“There are some instances where Uber could be an attractive alternative,” said Scot Hall, executive vice president of operations for “But in general leasing a car today is an extremely affordable means of transportation.”

Read the full story here.

Oddest activities drivers admit to performing in traffic

Behaviors like texting, yelling at the kids, changing radio stations, singing along to a favorite song and munching on a Big Mac are major distractions that can cause collisions. But these aren’t the only diversions that drivers take part in these days.

A survey conducted for Erie Insurance in Erie, Penn. found some motorists admitting to some truly indefensible activities behind the wheel, including that new scourge of Western Civilization, taking selfies with their cell phones.

In all the study found that 42 percent of all drivers admit to engaging in distracted driving behaviors, with 20 percent sheepishly admitting to such activities only when they’re alone in the vehicle.

Here’s a few of the oddest activities the motorists queried admitted to performing in traffic.

  • Romantic encounter/PDA: 15 percent.
  • Combing/styling hair: 15 percent.
  • Changing clothes: 9 percent.
  • Putting on make-up: 8 Percent.
  • Brushing/flossing teeth: 4 percent.
  • Taking selfies: 4 percent.
  • Changing drivers: 3 percent.
  • Going to the bathroom: 3 percent.

Read more here.

Many luxury cars lose more than half their value over the years

It’s not the Toyotas, Subarus, and Hondas that lose significant resale value over the years. These brands are known for commanding impressive resale values. It’s most often the high-end luxury cars that that sell for a fraction of the six-figure price tags they once commanded.

Over the years, many models lose more than half their value at least — as much as 60 or 70 percent in some instances. They still won’t be “cheap,” but if you’ve ever dreamed of owning a Bentley, it’s definitely worth looking into the used market.

So if a new econo-box isn’t fulfilling your need for prestige, or you have some money but not that much money to blow on a luxury label, check out the top five vehicles that have been hit especially hard by the cruel passage of time.

  1. BMW 7 Series
  2. Bentley Arnage
  3. Maybach 57
  4. Cadillac STS-V
  5. Volkswagen Phaeton W12

Read more here.