TIME Transportation

The Percentage Increase in Traffic Deaths During Spring Break Will Shock You

Most fatalities occur among drivers under 25 and those traveling from out-of-state

Spring break can be a time of hedonism for many college students, but it’s also a dangerous one, with the holiday leading to a sharp jump in traffic fatalities. That’s according to a new study published in Economic Inquiry, cited by Science Daily.

“We found that between the last week of February and the first week of April, a significantly greater number of traffic fatalities occurred in spring break hot spots compared to other locations in the same states and at other times of the year,” said researcher Michael T. French.

French and his team looked at traffic fatalities in 14 popular spring break destinations from Florida to California. They discovered that death tolls were 9.1% higher during spring break in these destinations, with a higher fatality incidence among drivers under 25 and those traveling from out-of-state.

During spring break, the authors also noted that there was no increase in traffic fatalities in non-spring break destinations, confirming that the spike is attributable to the holiday period itself.

To reduce traffic fatalities, researchers recommend that destinations offer transportation incentives to persuade students to leave cars behind. Travel vouchers for rideshares, taxis and other programs might go a long way in saving a life this spring break, researchers say.

[Science Daily]

TIME Transportation

Here’s the Incredible Flying Car You Can Buy in 2017

Potentially coming to "wealthy supercar buyers" in 2017

This high-tech car could be flying off the showroom floor by 2017.

At SXSW on Sunday, AeroMobil CEO Juraj Vaculik unveiled plans for a flying car for the “wealthy supercar buyer” that will likely cost a couple of hundred thousand euros, The Verge reports.

“We need another revolution, we need a revolution in personal transportation,” Vaculik said.

According to AeroMobil’s YouTube page, the above video shows a prototype that is “very close to the final product,” which will come equipped with autopilot and parachute deployment systems.

Vaculik says he anticipates the car will be available by 2017.

Uber partnership TBD.

Read next: Apple Is Turning Itself into a Fashion Company

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TIME Television

Top Gear Host Jeremy Clarkson Has Been Suspended After a ‘Fracas’ With a Producer

He's no stranger to controversy

British Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson has been suspended by the BBC.

Clarkson, 54, who is known for being outspoken, had already been given a final warning about his behavior after claims that he had used a racist slur during filming two years ago, Reuters reports.

“Following a fracas with a BBC producer, Jeremy Clarkson has been suspended pending an investigation,” the BBC said in a statement on Tuesday.

The U.K. broadcaster reported that he stands accused of hitting the producer during an argument last week.

Clarkson has not commented on the suspension.

Sunday’s episode of the current season will not be broadcast and it is uncertain whether the remaining episodes will be shown.

Top Gear is one of the BBC’s most successful television programs and is watched in more than 200 countries.

READ MORE: Here’s 6 Times the BBC Should Have Suspended Jeremy Clarkson But Didn’t

Read next: Julie Andrews on The Sound of Music at 50 — And That NBC Remake

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

MONEY Autos

How to Beat a Car Dealer at His Own Game

Used car lot
Patti McConville—Alamy

With these strategies you can save money and win on the car lot—before you even get there.

As consumers have gotten better at researching cars online, auto dealers have had to learn new tricks. Some have even gone on corporate retreats to Disneyland to get tips from the entertainment brand about winning over customers.

Given how persuasive some salespeople can be, you’ll want to plan your negotiating strategy before you arrive at the dealership. When it comes to haggling, there’s plenty up for grabs: According to Kelley Blue Book, the fair price for a new Toyota Camry is $2,000 less than the manufacturer’s suggested retail.

Here’s how to win before you ever set foot on the lot.

The scenario: You see an ad for a specific car at a great price.

You should: Call ahead and say, “I want to see if the 2013 preowned hybrid SUV is still available. It is? Great! Can you have it ready to test-drive when I get there?”

Why it works: Car dealers may advertise one car to get you to the lot and then avoid showing it to you so you buy a pricier one, says Philip Reed, senior consumer advice editor at Edmunds.com.

***

The scenario: You know what car you want, and you want to compare prices at different dealers.

You should: Send an email that says, “I’m looking for an out-the-door quote on the 2015.” Then specify the trim, options, and color.

Why it works: If you call around, dealers may try to draw you into the shop without giving you the info you are looking for. By specifying all the details and making sure to get a price that covers everything, you’ll be able to make apples-to-apples comparisons, says Joe Wiesenfelder, executive editor of Cars.com. And you’ll have neutralized a salesperson’s big advantage—the gift of gab.

Read next: 10 Life Hacks That Will Make You Richer

MONEY Autos

For Electric Cars, High Gas Prices Can’t Come Back Quickly Enough

2015 NIssan LEAF
Nissan—Wieck 2015 NIssan LEAF

Gas prices have rebounded a bit, but they remain low enough to kill the cost-saving argument for buying a plug-in electric car like the Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt.

Thanks to the dramatic decline in prices at the pump, the average American household is expected to spend $750 less on gas in 2015 than it did last year. We’ve already seen how some of this “saved” money is being spent, what with restaurants, casinos, hotels, and recreational activities all seeing a bump in business lately. Cheap gas seems to have affected big-ticket purchase decisions as well, exhibited most obviously by the spike in SUV and luxury car sales.

It’s an entirely different story, however, when it comes to the impact of cheap gas on electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf. Nissan just released its February numbers, and sales for the brand were up 1.1% compared with last year. Sales of the all-electric Leaf, however, were down 16%. That follows on the heels of a 15% decrease in January, the first such sales decline for the Leaf in two years. Overall Leaf sales dropped from 2,677 for the first two months of 2014 to 2,268 this year.

The recent sales performance of the Chevrolet Volt, the gas-electric pioneer that has been vying with the Leaf for the title of most popular plug-in among buyers, has been even worse. January was the worst month for the Volt since August 2011, with only 592 units sold, a decrease of 41% compared with January 2014. According to General Motors data, 693 Volts sold in February 2015, a drop of 43% compared with 1,210 the year before.

Surely, the prospect of new Chevy plug-in models has hurt Volt sales lately. The all-electric Chevy Bolt, expected to cost $30,000 and get 200 miles on a single charge, is planned to hit the market in 2017, while the 2016 Volt should be available for purchase during the second half of 2015. Many would-be Volt buyers are simply waiting for the newer model, which can be driven 50 miles on electric power, up from 38 miles for the current one.

That explains some—but not all—of the decline in Volt sales. Certainly, cheap gas prices have done damage to sales of the Volt as well as the Leaf, other plug-in vehicles, and even hybrids like the Toyota Prius to boot. After all, one of the big reasons to buy an electrified vehicle is that powering it is cheaper than filling up at the pump. Consequently, when the price of gas plummets, like it did month after month for nearly half a year recently, a prime argument for going the plug-in route is weakened.

It isn’t just new plug-in models that have taken a beating thanks to a combination of cheaper gas prices and emerging new tech that makes older models seem outdated in a hurry. According to the Wall Street Journal, the resale value of used electric cars has absolutely tanked:

In December and January, for instance, the average selling price of a 2012 Nissan Leaf at auction was about $10,000, nearly a quarter of the car’s original list price and down $4,700 from a year earlier, according to NADA’s guide. Three-year-old Volts, a plug-in car with a backup gasoline motor, were selling for an average $13,000 at auction in January, down from about $40,000 excluding the federal tax credit.

Nissan is coming off of the best-ever year for any plug-in, with Leaf sales in the U.S. topping 30,000 in 2014. The way things have started in 2015, it will be difficult for the automaker to beat last year, though Nissan has blamed bad weather for the Leaf’s recent struggles, and it expects a strong rebound in the spring. Meanwhile, at the start of 2014, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said he anticipated selling an average of 3,000 Leafs monthly that year, and 4,000 Leaf purchases monthly sometime in the near future.

Recent sales notwithstanding, Nissan isn’t giving up on electric cars anytime soon. Neither are many other automakers. At the auto show in Geneva this week, BMW, Volkswagen, and Fiat Chrysler were among the car companies showing off high-tech battery-powered vehicles that demonstrate their commitment to electrified cars.

At some point, rising gas prices will likely steer more interest back to alternative-fuel cars too. But that hasn’t happened yet. “Gas prices inched back up this month, but it didn’t appear to have much impact on shoppers’ choices,” Edmunds.com senior analyst Jessica Caldwell said in a report focused on February sales. “We’re still seeing a strong market for trucks and SUVs—especially compact crossover SUVs, which continue to ride an impressive wave of popularity.”

At least if the Leaf and Volt are struggling, Nissan and GM can take solace in the fact that some of their larger, less fuel-efficient and less environmentally friendly siblings are faring quite well during this winter of cheap gas, cold temperatures, and lots of snow. Two Nissan SUVs, the Pathfinder and Rogue, had record sales months in February, while GM pickup sales were up 37% for the month.

 

MONEY Autos

Fastest-Growing Category of Cars Is One You Can’t Afford

Bentley Continental GT Cabriolet V8 S
James Lipman Bentley Continental GT Cabriolet V8 S

Sales for Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Porsche, Maserati, and other ultra-luxury auto brands have been off the charts. Even stronger sales are expected down the road.

It’s an exceptionally good time to be in the game of selling cars to the 1%. And forecasters say that business will only get better for brands targeting ultra-luxury, ultra-premium vehicles—basically, anything with a sticker higher than $100K—to the ultra-rich.

Halfway through 2014, all signs indicated that super high-end auto brands such as Rolls-Royce and Bentley were experiencing outstanding sales growth. In June, for instance, the BBC noticed that Rolls-Royce sales were up 60% in Europe compared with the year before.

For that matter, a recent Bloomberg News report cites data from IHS Automotive showing that the sales growth of ultra-premium or “hyper-luxury” cars far outpaced the industry as a whole in 2014, as well as every year dating back to 2010. Global sales of six-figure-price vehicles from the likes of Porsche, Maserati, Ferrari, and Lamborghini were up roughly 25% in 2014, compared with an industry-wide average increase of about 3%.

What’s behind the ultra-luxury auto sales surge? Unsurprisingly, there has been a corresponding surge in ultra-wealthy individuals. According to Bloomberg, since 2011 the number of households with net worth in excess of $30 million has grown 13%, and for these people, it’s not that big of a deal to drop six figures on a car:

For a person worth $30 million, purchasing a car for a mere $100,000 isn’t a weighty decision. It’s akin to the median U.S. consumer with net worth of $45,000 swinging by the used car lot and dropping $1,350 on a well-worn Pontiac Aztek.

The ultra-rich supposedly don’t shop for cars like you and I do either. An Automotive News story quoted Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes saying that his customers rarely cross-shopped other auto brands. Instead, “Our competition is a chalet in the Swiss Alps, a beautiful piece of art or a watch,” he said.

Accordingly, Lamborghini sales increased 19% last year, while Porsche sales were up 17%. At the same time, Lamborghini and Ferrari, among others, have taken steps to cap sales in order to avoid diluting the brand’s exclusive image. Meanwhile, Bentley sales hit 10,120 units globally in 2013, up 19% from the year before, and sales rose another 9% in 2014, reaching 11,020 units. By 2020, Bentley is seeking annual sales to reach the 20,000 mark.

One way that Bentley hopes to keep growing—and why the ultra-luxury category as a whole is forecast to rise around 40% over the next five years—is by expanding into the ultra-luxury SUV market. Porsche introduced a sport utility vehicle several years back, and now Bentley, Rolls-Royce, and Jaguar are among the luxury brands with their first-ever SUVs in the works.

Bentley’s SUV will be called the Bentayga—already bashed as one of the Worst Car Names ever, and it doesn’t even go on sale until 2016. As the saying goes, if you have to ask how much it costs, you can’t afford it. Suffice it to say that the automaker is promising that the forthcoming vehicle will be the “most luxurious and most expensive” SUV on the planet.

 

MONEY Passwords

Skin-Implanted Chips Will Replace Passwords in the Future

NFC chip on pad of thumb
Sarina Finkelstein (photo illustration)—Getty Images (2)

It's not science fiction anymore — a chip implant can hold your passwords, credit card numbers and health information.

It was a moment out of science fiction. All eyes were on Kaspersky Lab researcher Povel Torudd as he sat center stage at the Kaspersky Security Analyst Summit in Cancun, Mexico, recently, waiting to become a cyborg.

Torudd volunteered to have a Near Field Communications (NFC) chip implanted in his hand by a professional body piercer using sterilized tools, a marker to show where the chip would be inserted, a scalpel and an imposing-looking insertion syringe.

Within minutes, Torudd was done. No hysterics (except for a few of us in the audience) and lots of curiosity.

NFC implants, such as the one now in Torudd’s hand, can be used for a variety of digital age tasks.

The chip can be used as a form of authentication in a multi-factor authentication scheme. It can store digital logins or manage public encryption keys, according to Hannes Sjoblad of the Swedish Biohacking Association.

NFC implants can also be used for personalization and user configuration. Sjoblad outlined how the chip implanted in his hand can automatically reset his car’s seat and mirror settings to account for his larger physique after his smaller-framed wife drives the family vehicle.

Sjoblad also stores information about his gym memberships and rebate memberships for retailers he frequently shops with in Sweden. “It’s made my life easier and interesting,” he said.

Torudd agreed to let the audience watch the implanting of a chip about the size of a grain of rice under his skin between his thumb and forefinger. It is powered by a tiny battery, but don’t worry about chip running out of juice too quickly. The chip is “asleep” most of the time, and wakes up only when the associated Android app attempts to read the stored data. And removing the chip is as simple as the insertion process, Sjoblad said, requiring a small scalpel cut over the insertion point.

Implants may soon supplant basic items in our pockets, such as car keys, proximity cards, and other forms of authentication, Sjoblad said, noting they can “replace all silly passwords.”

While biohacking has the potential for solving different types of authentication issues, there are unique security challenges posed by the technology. Privacy is always a concern when data can be accessed remotely, but the fact that healthcare is one of the big drivers for implants exacerbates privacy concerns.

These chips can potentially store years of data, which can be highly valuable for the attacker, as well as highly detrimental to user privacy if leaked.

More than just privacy, this kind of technology may potentially affect the person’s physical safety, Sjoblad said. Consider that researchers have already identified potential risks associated with existing human implant technology, such as insulin pumps, pacemakers, and cochlear implants. Past demonstrations have shown how insulin pumps and pacemakers can be manipulated maliciously to potentially harm the person using these medical devices.

More from Credit.com

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

MONEY Autos

New Ram ProMaster Puts Chrysler Muscle in a Fiat Eurotruck

This combination cargo vehicle and passenger van is a welcome hybrid of American power and European design.

In the narrow, congested city block where I live, traffic gets blocked every day by some boxy truck making a delivery. Horns honk, as do drivers, and general unpleasantness ensues. Life in the big city would be so much calmer if trucks were smaller, like they are in Europe, where the streets are even narrower and more congested.

That’s now happening. As car companies globalize their products, vehicles such as Ram’s new ProMaster City are making headway, joining the likes of Ford’s Transit, Chevy’s City Express and Nissan’s NV200. The ProMaster City is a Eurotruck through and through, because it’s a Fiat Doblò that’s made in Turkey and rebadged for the U.S. market. It comes in both a passenger and cargo version, and Chrysler has a customizing operation so you can trick out the cargo version to fit your business needs.

One reason Fiat bought Chrysler is that Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne realized that the two companies had offsetting strengths and weaknesses. Fiat does small really well; Chrysler is Detroit muscle all the way, and its big-ass Ram pickups are gobbling up market share.

In the ProMaster City, both companies’ strengths are brought to bear. When you build small cars and trucks as Fiat does, you think inside out — that is, using design not only to maximize interior space, but also to create visual space. Look out the ProMaster City’s windshield and you would think you are in a much bigger truck, a feeling that’s exaggerated by the short nose and narrow A pillars. At the same time, there are nooks in unexpected places — for instance, a shelf at the roofline so you don’t have to jam all kinds of stuff behind the sun visor.

Where’s the Chrysler in this thing? That’s under the hood. The ProMaster City is powered by one of Chrysler’s go-to engines, the 2.4 liter Tigershark, an inline four-cylinder number that puts out 178 h.p., tops in its class. The Tigershark also powers the Chrysler 200, the Jeep Renegade, and the Dodge Dart, and it’s attached to a sophisticated nine-speed automatic transmission. But even here there’s a touch of Fiat: The Tigershark uses the Italians’ MultiAir variable valve timing technology that helps to push the mileage to 21 miles per gallon in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. And there’s more than ample power.

Where this corporate combination goes astray is in the dashboard, for some reason. The speedometer and information panels are not easy to see, the fog lamp is in the wrong place and the navigation system is a bit silly. The screen is iPhone-sized but with about a third of the resolution. You half expect to see Pac-Man start playing.

Still, the ride is comfortable, in part because of seating and in part because of the rear independent suspension. It’s surprisingly quiet and car-like at speeds below 60 miles per hour. It also claims a very maneuverable 32-ft. turning radius. The fold-and-tumble rear seats maintain the same comfort level, and easily convert into a vertical position in a two-latch process that maximizes the cargo space. You’ll get 131.7 cubic feet of space in the cargo version, and you can deliver nearly 1,900 lbs. of payload. The asymmetrical rear doors are designed to be opened to a full 180° for easier access.

The ProMaster City isn’t the cheapest of these Eurotrucks. Our City Wagon SLT model had a base price of $25,655, and options such as a rear window wiper, rear view camera, and some of the fancier accessories push it up a couple of thousand. But the combination of Italian styling and American power in a well-thought-out package is attractive. And maybe it will help bring a little peace and quiet to my neighborhood.

MONEY Autos

Why Apple Can’t Sell Cars Like iPhones

Apple employees prepare the newly released iPhone 6 for sale
Hannibal Hanschke—Reuters

Apple makes its money selling affordable luxury, but an Apple car would likely be luxury—period.

The Apple car! It’s Cupertino’s latest nonexistent product to drive the tech world into a frenzy. Ever since the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple has “several hundred employees” working on the production of a Tesla competitor (by 2020, no less, according to Bloomberg), pundits have been fighting over the viability of an Apple-branded automobile.

On Monday, Vox’s Matt Yglesias jumped into the fray, taking on what he saw as the prevailing argument against the Apple car: namely, that the car industry is a low margin business, and Apple needs high margins to keep making its usual hefty profits. Here’s Yglesias:

The misperception here is that Apple earns high margins because Apple operates in high margin industries. The truth is precisely the opposite. Apple earns high margins because it is efficient at manufacturing and firmly committed to a business strategy of sacrificing market share to maintain pricing power.

If Apple makes a car, it will be a high margin car because Apple only makes high margin products. If it succeeds it will succeed for the same reason iPhones and iPads and Macs succeed — people like them and are willing to buy them, even though you could get similar specs for less.

That’s sort of true, but it’s not the whole picture. To understand Apple’s business model, we need to take a step back. Apple earns high profits because it goes into high-volume industries dominated by low-margin players who sell relatively affordable products. Apple then makes a premium product, one where you can’t get similar specs for less—there is no other computer or smartphone with the software or build quality of an iPhone 6 or Macbook Air—and prices its offering a few hundred dollars more than the competition. Then it earns billions off this relatively small price increase by selling high quantities of units.

In other words, Apple makes premium versions of things everybody needs at prices most people can still afford. To quote a 2010 review of the iPad, by Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, ” ‘Affordable luxury’ is the sweet spot for mass market success today, and Apple keeps shooting bulls eyes.” A similar strategy for an Apple car then, would be to sell a premium-quality car with higher margins (Apple’s gross margin in 2014 was close to 40%) at a still-affordable price.

The problem for Apple is that it’s a lot easier to increase margins in a low-cost industry than a high-cost one. Even if an iPhone 6 costs 100% more than a cheap LG smartphone, it’s only $200. Same thing with the Macbook Air, which is twice the price of a low-end Windows laptop but still affordable at $1,000.

But trying to get similar margins in the automobile market means a price increase of thousands of dollars, not hundreds. Double the price of a $22,970 Toyota Camry, or ask for even a 50% premium, and you’re in BMW territory. (That company’s cheapest sedan costs $32,000.)

The typical Apple customer has enough disposable income to double their phone budget and buy an iPhone 6. Buy one fewer latte a week, and you’re pretty much there. Asking someone to double their car budget is a very different story. That’s not affordable luxury, that’s luxury—period.

This isn’t to say Apple won’t make an expensive high-margin car, just like BMW. The premium car market isn’t nearly as profitable as the cell phone market, but it’s not nothing. It’s also possible Apple will make a low-margin car while charging a slight premium over the likes of GM and Ford. The entire global automobile market in 2014 was about half the size of the iPhone market alone, meaning such an endeavor would be a lot of work for not much growth, but anything is possible.

But for Apple to do either of these things would be to abandon the affordable luxury strategy that has made it the most valuable company in the world. That’s worth thinking about when considering an Apple car’s chances.

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