TIME Autos

Chevy’s New Cars Will Keep Your Phone Cool While it Charges

Chevy Vent
Chevy Chevy Vent

To help prevent your smartphone from overheating

A cell phone stuck baking in the summer sun in a car can turn piping hot fast. Now, Chevrolet has devised a solution: an air conditioning vent made especially for phones.

Many of Chevy’s 2016 fleet of vehicles, including the Malibu, Volt and and Impala will feature a special AC vent in the middle console in the spot where people often stash their phones.

The feature only works when the whole car’s AC is on, so leaving the phone in a hot car when you’re out and about is still a bad idea. But it could help keep a phone cool when it’s doing things like charging, giving directions or streaming music.

MONEY deals

Summer Price Break! 6 Things That Are Actually Cheaper This Summer

Blessedly, bacon and cheese are on the list.

For the most part, consumers are accustomed to seeing prices for a wide range of goods go in only one direction: up, up, and up. Often, this is simply the result of inflation and regular price increases. There are also freak price spikes like the current situation with eggs, which have risen dramatically of late thanks to the bird flu outbreak. And more costly eggs have in turn begun causing price increases everywhere from diners to bakeries.

Thankfully, from time to time consumers get to benefit from the occasional price decrease on goods and services—including some of their favorite treats. Here are a half-dozen things you’ll actually pay less for this summer.

  • Bacon

    Plate of bacon
    Alamy

    While bacon prices aren’t cheap by historical standards, they are significantly cheaper than in the summer of 2014, when they spiked amid low supplies. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average price for a pound of bacon as of May 2015 was below $5, compared with $5.50 at the start of 2015 and more than $6 last summer. Overall, bacon prices fell 18% over a 12-month span.

  • Gas

    gas prices
    Elise Amendola—AP

    After surging steadily through much of the spring, gas prices have dipped of late, hitting a national average of $2.77 for a gallon of regular at the start of the week, according to AAA. Drivers in nearly all states are paying at least 75¢ less per gallon compared with a year ago, and AAA estimates that cheap gas prices in 2015 have helped Americans collectively save $65 billion on fuel costs thus far this year.

  • Last-Minute Hotels

    Luxury Hotels on the Las Vegas Strip
    John Kellerman—Alamy The Las Vegas Strip

    Overall, hotel rates in the U.S. are expected to be up 5% to 6% in 2015, and in some cases are up more than 10%. But in certain cities and under specific circumstances, prices can be much cheaper compared with this time last year. Data from the last-minute hotel booking specialist HotelTonight indicates that some Fourth of July weekend rates booked right now are bargains compared with the 2014 holiday. Average rates in Las Vegas are 39% cheaper versus last year, and July 4 hotel prices are also down in destinations such as the Berkshires (down 29%), Tampa (20%), and Williamsburg, Va. (12%).

  • Other Pork Products

    sausages on grill
    Slawomir Purgal—Alamy

    The same rise in the nation’s pork supply that’s caused bacon prices to retreat is lowering prices for pork chops, hot dogs, and the like. The American Farm Bureau Federation recently estimated that the cost of a typical July 4 cookout that feeds 10 people is 3% cheaper than it was a year ago. One of the reasons why this is so is that two of the main dishes—hot dogs and pork spare ribs—are 2% to 4% less expensive than they were in 2014.

  • Airfare

    plane flying over field
    iStock

    At the start of the year, researchers from the likes of Expedia predicted that flight prices would fall in 2015, if for no other reason than airlines would finally have to lower fares in the face of dramatically cheaper fuel prices. And while airfare prices depend on a range of factors—route, timing, demand, etc.—data from the flight search Hopper.com show that overall, domestic flights in the spring and early summer were 8.7% cheaper compared with the same time last year. The site also predicted that the trend will continue through the summer, with the average flight selling for $18 (or about 6%) less than in the summer of 2014.

  • Dairy Products

    Vitamin Cottage Natural Grocers, Denver, Colorado
    Brennan Linsley—AP

    The USDA reports that national stockpiles of butter, cheese, and milk are all up significantly compared with a year ago, and prices for most dairy products—including yogurt, ice cream, and blocks of cheese—are down as a result. Bear in mind that some of the price decrease is based on how expensive dairy products were for much of last year. Butter consumption, for instance, has been increasing for years, and prices spiked to near record prices last summer through the fall.

MONEY Autos

The Case for Buying an Electric Car Is About to Get a Whole Lot Better

2015 Chevrolet Bolt EV
Luke Ray—Fuel Press Chevrolet Bolt EV Concept all electric vehicle with more than 200 miles of range and a price tag around $30,000.

Drive 200+ miles on a single charge, without paying Tesla prices.

Electric car sales have stagnated through the first half of 2015. Sales have slumped for several reasons, including cheap gas prices and increased fuel efficiency among gas-powered automobiles.

In May, dramatic price cuts helped boost sales of models such as the Chevy Volt, and the month saw the most EV sales of 2015, according to InsideEVs. Still, the May 2015 EV sales total of 11,540 was 7% lower than May 2014. The Nissan Leaf, the overall electric-car category leader, has been struggling in particular. After failing to cross 2,000 unit sales in any month in 2015, the Leaf finally hit the mark in May. But through the first five months of the year, only 7,742 Nissan Leafs have been purchased, a decrease of more than 25% off last year’s pace.

Over the next few years, however, advances in electric car technology could very well turn skeptics into plug-in adopters.

While purchase prices have decreased, EVs remain impractical for many households for the time being. Presumably, a large portion of drivers is reluctant to go electric because of limited driving range. Unless you’re willing to pay $70,000 or more for the likes of a Tesla, you’ll be limited to driving 70 or 80 miles per charge with the Leaf and nearly every other reasonably priced purely battery-powered vehicle. That’s just not enough for drivers who want a car that’ll be worry-free on road trips, longer commutes, and long days full of running errands.

Soon, though, the so-called “range anxiety” factor could be reduced significantly. Earlier this year, GM introduced a concept called the Chevy Bolt, an all-electric vehicle that should appeal to the masses seeing as it’s expected to be both affordable (around $30,000) and practical (200 miles per charge).

Chevy hasn’t said when, exactly, the Bolt will be available for purchase, but it’s been widely reported that the likely date is sometime in 2017—probably late 2017. According to industry analysts cited by Automotive News, buyers could be behind the wheel of Bolts sooner than that. Production of the Bolt is expected to begin in October 2016, and sales would commence shortly thereafter.

By then, there could be even more compelling reasons to wait a little longer for what Nissan has in the works for the Leaf. Another Automotive News post notes that Nissan is working on a next-generation battery that would allow the Leaf a driving range of roughly 310 miles per charge. Such an impressive range won’t be available in the forthcoming 2017 Nissan Leaf, which should hit the market next year with an expected range of 105 to 120 miles.

What’s more, next year Tesla, which thus far has focused on the high-end market, is expected to introduce the Model 3, a mass-market vehicle rumored to have an impressive driving range and starting price ($35,000) that could come to dominate the field.

Overall, one or more of these new vehicles could be real game changers, with affordable prices and vastly improved driving ranges that’ll make the best arguments yet for switching to an EV.

Read next: Cheap Gas Helps Pull the Plug on Electric Cars

TIME Autos

Check Out the World’s First 3-D Printed Supercar

Divergent Microfactories

It has a chassis about 90% lighter than the average car

The “Blade” is light, sleek and — at an acceleration of 0-60 m.p.h. in 2.2 seconds — incredibly fast, just like you’d want any supercar to be. But a few things set this wondrous machine apart from others of its kind, foremost among them its method of manufacture.

The car, made by San Francisco–based startup Divergent Microfactories, has a chassis created entirely using a 3-D printer, Engadget reports. The 3-D printing reduces the overall weight of the car by 90%, the manufacturer claims, coupled with the use of carbon fiber for most of the car’s body rather than steel or aluminum. As a result, the whole vehicle weighs just under 1,400 lb.

“How we make things is much more important than how we fuel them and whether they have a tailpipe or not,” Kevin Czinger, CEO of Divergent, said in an interview with Forbes.

Czinger has also put some thought into how the car is fueled, however, with Blade carrying a 700HP engine that can run on compressed natural gas — thereby also making it one of the most environment-friendly automobiles around.

The company will produce a certain number of cars initially, but eventually plans to sell its technology to smaller manufacturers to make their own vehicles.

“We have got to rethink how we manufacture, because — when we go from 2 billion cars today to 6 billion cars in a couple of decades — if we don’t do that, we’re going to destroy the planet,” Czinger adds.

MONEY Autos

Meet the Dodge Hellcat, a Growling Piece of Fun

What reason could there be for a 4-door sedan that can go 200 mph?

Do you throw the kids in the back and go drag racing with them on the way to Grandma’s? Do you try to get out of the drive-through window at Starbucks in under half a second? I’m not really sure what Chrysler was thinking when it greenlighted the 707-horsepower Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. And I’m really sure I don’t care—because this car is one growling piece of fun.

Yes, the Hellcat bolts off the line like a cheetah locked on an antelope, as in 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 secs. Your trip to 100 mph takes just a trice longer. Feeling the g-forces, which you can track on the instrument panel, just adds to these briefest of pleasure trips. Chalk it up to the 6.2-liter, supercharged V-8 Hemi engine. It’s the biggest power plant to wear the Hemi badge in a production car—by comparison, note that NASCAR is running at 725 hp this season. A few more horses and you and Dale Jr. are trading paint, right?

Not really. Let’s face it: You’re not going to spend most of your time driving over the speed limit, and certainly not at 200 mph. Even on a track, this beastie will spend most of its life under 150 mph.

The big surprise in this package—and a genius rationalization for buying one—is that the badass-looking Hellcat is an absolute pussycat at highway speeds. The car is relaxed, comfortable with its lower-speed self. Why? The tach is reading 1,200 rpm, meaning the engine isn’t breaking a sweat, even if you are getting twitchy to floor it. When you combine with the car’s racing suspension and powerful Brembo brakes, you actually get the ultimate cruise machine: a rock-solid and quiet ride. And those seats. MONEY’s test car, a don’t-mess-with-me shade of black, had tan leather seats that reminded me of a beautiful baseball glove. It was like sitting in the pocket of a classic leather Wilson or Spalding, but ready to be slung forward like a Nolan Ryan-Randy Johnson-Aroldis Chapman fastball.

Drawbacks? Sure. Feed the kitty with high-test gas and you’ll get maybe 20 mpg on the highway. We averaged in the mid-teens. And in addition to feeding those horses all that gasoline, you’ll pay close to $100 per horse for the Hellcat version, which in our test car included extras such as a power sunroof and a very good Uconnect 8.4-in. touchscreen infotainment system. But what the Hellcat—that’s the price of unstinting, unrestricted, and unusually plush power.

MONEY Autos

Ford to Test a Car-Sharing Service

Ford is joining the likes of Zipcar and other car-sharing services.

The 112-year-old automotive company is partnering with car-sharing companies Getaround (in America) and easyCar Club (in the U.K.) to test an all-Ford, peer-to-peer car-sharing service for drivers. The test will run through November in six cities: San Francisco; Berkeley; Oakland; Portland, Ore.; Washington, D.C.; and Chicago. Ford will directly invite around 14,000 American and 12,000 British customers to try out the service. GM launched a similar car-sharing program in 2012, but ended it not long after.

Read next: 3 Ways to Avoid Costly Rental Car Insurance

MONEY Shopping

The Latest Sign That The Economy Is Getting Back on Track

A family uses the self-checkout at the Wal-Mart owned Sam's Club in Bentonville
Rick Wilking—Reuters A family uses the self-checkout at the Wal-Mart owned Sam's Club in Bentonville, Arkansas June 4, 2015.

Consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of US economic activity.

U.S. consumer spending recorded its largest increase in nearly six years in May on strong demand for automobiles and other big-ticket items, further evidence that economic growth was gathering momentum in the second quarter.

The Commerce Department said on Thursday consumer spending increased 0.9% last month, the biggest gain since August 2009, after an upwardly revised 0.1% rise in April.

The sturdy increases suggested households were finally spending some of the windfall from lower gasoline prices, and capped a month of solid economic reports.

Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, was previously reported to have been unchanged in April. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast a 0.7% rise in May.

It was the latest sign that growth was accelerating after gross domestic product shrank at a 0.2 percent annual rate in the first quarter as the economy battled bad weather, port disruptions, a strong dollar and spending cuts in the energy sector.

From employment to the housing market, the economic data in May has been bullish. Even manufacturing, which is struggling with the lingering effects of dollar strength and lower energy prices, also is starting to stabilize.

The firming economy suggests the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates this year even as inflation remains well below the U.S. central bank’s 2 percent target.

Spending on long-lasting goods such as automobiles jumped 2.2 percent last month, while outlays on services like utilities rose 0.3 percent.

When adjusted for inflation, consumer spending increased 0.6 percent, the largest jump since last August, after being unchanged in April.

Personal income increased 0.5 percent last month after a similar gain in April. Income is being boosted by a tightening

labor market, which is starting to push up wage growth. With households stepping up spending, the saving rate fell to 5.1 percent from 5.4 percent in April. Still, savings remain at lofty levels.

Inflation pressures remained tame last month despite the acceleration in consumer spending. A price index for consumer spending increased 0.3 percent after being flat in April. In the 12 months through May, the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index rose only 0.2 percent.

Excluding food and energy, prices edged up 0.1 percent after a similar gain in April. The so-called core PCE price index rose 1.2 percent in the 12 months through May, the smallest gain since February 2014.

TIME Autos

Chevy Publishes Press Release Entirely in Emoji

General Motors Recall Widens As CEO Barra Testifies To Lawamkers In DC
Joshua Lott—Getty Images A man walks past a Chevrolet Cruze Eco displayed at the General Motors headquarters April 1, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan.

We think it says "drink your Ovaltine"

Well, this is where we are, world: General Motors, one of the biggest companies in the world, has published a press release in emoji. Entirely in emoji.

Honestly, the release is pretty difficult to decipher. We know it’s about the 2016 Chevy Cruze, a compact car GM’s been making since 2008.

Outside of that — maybe some of the kids reading this will be able to do a better job decoding the message, but it does seem that GM wants you to know the new Cruze is 100% awesome, that it will work well with your smartphone, and that you will love it. It also seems to say that you’ll be better at sports if you buy the car, but that may be a bad interpretation.

If you want to try your hand at reading these millennial hieroglyphs, check out the release. Or, wait for GM to post the translation at 2 p.m. ET Tuesday.

TIME Autos

American Toyota Executive Arrested for Drugs in Japan

Communications head allegedly tried to import oxycodone

Toyota’s chief communications officer was arrested in Japan Thursday for allegedly importing oxycodone. Julie Hamp, who took on the role as Toyota’s communications head in April, violated the country’s Narcotics Control Act by attempting to use an international parcel service to receive oxycodone, according to Tokyo Police. The substance is a prescription drug in the United States but banned in Japan.

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda said the company should have done more to prepare Hamp for her relocation from the U.S. to Japan. “Through the investigation, I believe that we will learn she had no intent to violate the law,” he said.

[CNN Money]

MONEY Travel

This Is the Summer for These 4 Classic Road Trips

Time to hit the road.

If you’ve always dreamed of taking a scenery-studded, once-in-a-lifetime car adventure, this is the time. While gas has edged up from its January low of $2.02 a gallon, prices are far enough below last summer’s $3.68 a gallon to make hitting the road a relative bargain—at least for now. Not sure where to set the GPS? Fill ’er up and try one of these four classic routes. (Click on the links for the full route maps.)

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