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.


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 Benefits

Uber Driver Was an Employee, According to California

The fast-growing ridesharing service could be on the hook for plenty of new expenses.

A former Uber driver in a labor dispute with the company was not an independent contractor, the California Labor Commissioner has ruled. That means the fast-growing ridesharing service could be on the hook for minimum wage payments, unemployment insurance, and other job-related expenses.

The California Labor Commissioner’s ruling stated, in its analysis,

Defendants [Uber] hold themselves out as nothing more than a neutral technological platform, designed simply to enable drivers and passengers to transact the business of transportation. The reality, however, is that Defendants are involved in every aspect of the operation….

Defendants control the tools the drivers use….

The passengers pay Defendants a set price for the trip, and Defendants, in turn, pay their drivers a non-negotiable service fee….Defendants alone have the discretion to negotiate [a cancellation fee] with the passenger. Defendants discourage drivers from accepting tips because it would be counterproductive to Defendants’ advertising and marketing strategy.

…Aside from her car, Plaintiff [Barbara Ann Berwick, the driver in the case] had no investment in the business….But for Defendants’ intellectual property, Plaintiff would not have been able to perform the work.

In light of the above, Plaintiff was Defendants’ employee….

Correction: A previous version of this post, including a video, stated that the California ruling applied to “Uber drivers.” In fact, it applied to a single driver, Barbara Ann Berwick.


New Tech Will Allow a Car to Literally Sell Itself

Ford trucks on display at the Uftring Automall in East Peoria, Illinois
Daniel Acker—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Smartphone does the work of a car dealership sales staffer.

We’ve already seen how beacons and location-based apps are being used at retail stores like Macy’s. Once the app is downloaded, beacons placed in strategic locations inside the store will send alerts to the customer’s smartphone, calling attention to the fact that, say, a certain brand of household appliances is on sale, or a suit is available in 12 other patterns than the one on display. Basically, it’s an added sales pitch but without the need of a human salesman.

Soon, this kind of technology will be popping up in car dealerships. Wards Auto reported that Ford is launching a pilot program that incorporates beacons that will send automated messages to customers’ smartphones based on where they’re located in the dealership. Here are a few examples of how the sales pitches might play out:

A beacon positioned at the front of the car, for example, could point out its advanced LED lighting, while one at the rear might focus on its class-leading cargo-carrying capacity. Another positioned elsewhere on the vehicle could broadcast information on a special rebate or discounted option package.

Beacons could also be positioned throughout the dealership lot, so that customers would receive pitches and extra information even when the dealership is closed. While the program is very much in the early stages, it looks like the messages will only be sent to customers who proactively sign up for an app and welcome the information. The messages are easy enough to delete or ignore too, of course. If only it was this easy to silence an annoying car salesperson.


Shifting Gears: Ex-Banker Sells Used Luxury Cars

Former banking executive Douglas Dolton found a way to turn his passion for sports cars into a booming, vrooming business.

The sharp turn Douglas Dolton made years ago — to leave behind a 30-year career in financial services in order to start an exotic-auto dealership — took him in a direction he’d long dreamed of going.

“I’ve always been a car nut,” says Dolton, who races his red Ferrari F355 six times a year and confesses to having owned 58 vehicles in his 55 years.

In late 2008 the gearhead was serving as CEO of Zopa, a U.K.-based peer-to-peer lending site, when the company shuttered its U.S. operations.

Dolton wasn’t eager to look for another job in the field. “I’m best at lending, and people were in too much debt,” he says.

Talking to an executive coach, he blurted out that he’d like to indulge his passion for Ferraris.

While he wrote off the possibility of a new-car dealership, which would take millions to get going, he grew interested selling select preowned rarities — including Ferraris, Maseratis, and Porsches — that he’d purchased or acquired on consignment.

At meetings of his local Ferrari owners’ club, he polled people on his business concept and got positive feedback. When asked their plans for their next car, “they scratched their heads,” says Dolton. “They still wanted to move up a model, but with the economy changing they seemed more interested in used Ferraris.”

Inspired, Dolton launched San Francisco Motorsports in 2009, partnering quickly with a veteran salesman and a master technician. He also bought four Porsches. To get word out, he advertised in auto enthusiast newsletters.


What it took to start up: $350,000

To cover showroom rent and initial inventory, the father of four put in $50,000 from savings and borrowed $300,000 against his investments. He hopes to clear the debt within two years. Meanwhile, his wife, a lawyer, continues to save for their retirement.

What he’s paying on a $600,000 line of credit: 4.25%

He obtained the line of credit in 2011 so he could buy more cars.

The former banker was turned down six times before getting approved. “The executives said, ‘Talk to us after you’ve been in business for two years,’ ” he recalls. “It was so insulting.”

When Dolton expects to match his old salary of $300,000: 2014

Once his business shows consistent growth, Dolton hopes the bank will raise his credit line to $2 million, enabling him to buy more cars — and thus boost revenue to $6 million within two years. “There are a lot more transactions that I can access than I can do now,” he says.

TIME self-driving cars

Mercedes’ Next Sedan Does Something Very Special

The car will be able to steer itself at highway speeds

The autonomous driving revolution is taking a big step forward with the new Mercedes E-class.

The sedan will be able to steer by itself at highway speeds, which Bloomberg notes is a feat formerly only seen in tests.

The new cars will hit the market in March 2016, and drivers will actually feel the steering wheel move in their hands if the feature is turned on. In tests, the car was able to go through a dark tunnel at 80 mph without any serious problems.

This is the latest in a series of self-driving car announcements over the past few months from major automakers. General Motors has said it will have autonomous cars on the road within a decade, and Google is starting to road test their autonomous pods.

TIME Google

Google Will Now Tell Everyone When its Driverless Cars are in a Crash

Google's self-driving vehicle
Google Google's self-driving vehicle

A new website will disclose all accidents


Google has issued its first public report listing traffic accidents involving its self-driving cars.

The decision by the tech giant comes after years of silence about any crashes involving its test vehicles on public roads. Now, the company will publish the details online.

The change, originally announced in May, comes after Google co-founder Sergey Brin was confronted about the topic earlier this week at the company’s annual shareholder meeting. At the time, he defended keeping quiet about any accidents by saying that it was to protect the identities of the humans involved, according to USA Today.

In a monthly report for May published Friday, Google acknowledged that its self-driving cars had been involved in 12 minor accidents over six years of testing. “Not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident,” Google said. In most cases, cars driven by others ran into Google’s self-driving vehicle while it was on the street. In one case, a Google employee caused the crash while the car was in manual mode, the company said.


(Correction: Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this story gave an incorrect number of accidents caused by Google employees in self-driving cars. There was one such accident. The story was also adjusted to clarify that Google initially disclosed plans last month to publish the report).


Audi’s Latest Product Is Unlike Any Other

SAJJAD HUSSAIN—AFP/Getty Images The Audi logo is seen at the launch of the new Audi TT car in the Indian capital New Delhi on April 23, 2015.

Looks pretty fast though

German car manufacturer Audi and California-based shoe-maker Toms have together created limited edition alpargatas-style shoe. The slip-on is asphalt grey with stoplight red stitching, a meld of Audi’s brand colors. Like the interior patterning, a tag on the outside displays the car’s logo, its signature conjoined rings.

Otherwise, it’s hard to tell them apart from a regular pair of Toms shoes.

The unusual promotion is part of Audi’s “summer of Audi sales event,” which takes place from June 3 to Aug. 4 in the U.S. To own a pair, you’ll just need to purchase or lease an Audi [fortune-stock symbol=”AUDVF”] vehicle first.

As part of the deal, Toms has agreed to donate 55,000 pairs of shoes to children in need through its “giving partners” program in the U.S. Since 2009, the company has donated more than a million pairs of shoes through the program.

Audi Toms Shoes 2015
Audi USA

“We are excited to be partnering with Audi, a company that shares our passion for progressive ideas and positive impact, to create a unique giving experience for Audi customers,” said Toms founder Blake Mycoskie in a statement.

Here’s the pair of company’s joint commercial, which features an Audi RS7 “sportback” car alongside the special edition espadrilles:

TIME connectivity

Why Toyota And Ford Are Teaming Up Against Apple And Google

It's a battle for the dashboard

Toyota and Ford are ready to buddy up to defend their vehicle dashboards as tech-industry bigwigs Google and Apple introduce in-car entertainment and navigation systems.

The partnership between the two automakers will explore how to integrate smartphone applications into new vehicles, reported Bloomberg. The fight for the dashboard is critical for the likes of Ford and Toyota who want to maintain control of their car designs.

Meanwhile, Apple recently launched its CarPlay offering, and Google released its Android Auto in a bid to dominate connectivity in cars, a feature meant to attract younger customers looking for tech-laden rides.

By 2020, nearly 31 million vehicles could feature Apple’s CarPlay, and another 37 million could have Android Auto, according to IHS Automotive. That growth rate would trace the rise of Bluetooth and auxiliary-cord inputs that we’ve seen over the last 10 years, according to IHS analyst Mark Boyadjis.

Read More at Bloomberg

TIME Autos

This State Is Becoming a Self-Driving Car Haven

Transportation Sec'y Foxx Discusses Future Transportation Trends With Google CEO
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx (R) and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt (L) ride in a Google self-driving car at the Google headquarters on February 2, 2015 in Mountain View, California.

It's not just a west coast thing anymore

If you want to get ahead of the game on owning a self-driving car, you should head to the Old Dominion State — because it turns out Virginia is becoming a mecca for self-driving cars, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The highways of Northern Virginia are often considered some of the most congested in the country — something this NoVa-bred writer can attest to. So it makes perfect sense that these highways, specifically Interstates 95, 495 and 66 and U.S. routes 29 and 50 are being used as testing grounds for automated cars, which are designed partially to take some of the tension out of commutes.

Myra Blanco, director of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute’s Center for Automated Vehicle Systems, told the Times-Dispatch why Virginia is going to be a great state for automated cars:

“Other states are saying you need to prove that independently you can do all this testing. What we are trying to do is show them how to do the testing and how to facilitate the process as well,” Blanco said.

“I think this is going to help us advance the technology and even more important, to attract companies and satellite offices in the Northern Virginia area to develop these new concepts.”

The automated cars could be tested on roads in Virginia within a year. Still, we’re a ways off from you actually being able to drive one regularly.

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