Road Signs: Behind The Numbers

Behind The Numbers points to the past decade’s uptick in traffic deaths involving older drivers as a concern to be addressed at its national safety conference in Washington DC. May 24. Sean Kane disagrees and defends his “auto safety” territory in The Safety Report Blog. It may also keep senior drivers free of unwarranted new regulations. He quotes statistician Randy Whitfield: “Edmunds asked why there are more traffic deaths in 2009 compared to 2000 within the 51-65 age group, while all other age groups have fewer deaths. An answer that does not involve recourse to unmeasured, hypothetical driver attitudes toward safety is that there are so many more drivers in this age group in 2009 than there were in 2000. Conversely, part of the explanation for the reduction in male driver deaths in other age groups is simply that the size of that subpopulation has remained relatively stable.”

248 Miles Per Gallon

Ron Beasley sent along photos and information on this $699 car that allegedly gets 248 miles per gallon.

Volkswagen 1-seater

The car was introduced at a Volkswagen stockholders meeting as the most economical car in the world. It is slated to be released in China next year.

Volkswagen 1-seater - interior

Only a one seater however (a two seater rumored to be not far behind). The body is 3.47 meters long and  just 1.25 meters wide, and a little over a meter high. The prototype was made completely of carbon fiber and is not painted to save weight. The power plant is a one cylinder diesel positioned ahead of the rear axle and combined with an automatic shift controlled by a knob in the interior. Safety was not compromised as the impact and roll-over protection is comparable to the GT racing cars.

No Miles Per Gallon

The Detroit Bureau reports, “If European regulators follow through on a proposal now getting serious consideration all fossil fuel-powered vehicles could be banned from the Continent’s roadways by 2050.” The auto-centric news service says the plan would be phased in over the next four decades, with the number of gas and diesel-powered automobiles being cut in half by 2030.

No Surprise

A study from, based on over eight million retail purchases last year “shows that women car buyers are more cost-conscious and purchased fuel-efficient vehicles while male buyers were completely the opposite, purchasing vehicles that were either big and brawny, like a large truck, or chose a high-priced, high-performance vehicle,” according to Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry trends and insights at the consumer auto-shopping site. Brands with nearly 50% women buyers were, in order: Mini, Kia and Honda. Brands with the highest percentage of male buyers (less than 10% female buyers) were; Ferrari, Lotus, Lamborghini, Maybach and Rolls Royce.

Zip Zooms

Bloomberg News says Zipcar vastly exceeded expectation for its IPO. Raising some $175 million. The company offers its members car sharing by the hour in 50 cities in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom and on 150 college campuses. It owns and operates an 8,000-vehicle fleet representing 30 makes and models, including hybrids and pickups.

Zip Up or Out

Tom Forbes, writing for Marketing Daily’s The Top of The News, quotes Advertising Age columnist Bob Garfield about a Chrysler ad agency employee being fired for a personal twitter he authored that offended the client: He was “fired for being funny… fired for being spontaneous… fired for being relevant. Fired for alighting ever so gently, like a canary taking its perch, on a dowel of human truth. You know — the way social media is supposed to be, because the whole point of it is to discard archaic and abrasive concepts of messaging in favor of actual conversations.”  . . . Aflac fired the voice of its duck, comedian Gilbert Gottfried, over insensitive remarks he tweeted about the tsunami in Japan, Mathew Ingram points out that engaging in actual conversations is even more difficult for newspaper journalists.” A case in point, he writes in a GIGAOM posting, a new social-media policy introduced at a major newspaper in Canada, which tells its staff not to express personal opinions — even on their personal accounts or pages — and not to engage with readers in the comments. It is hardly alone among newspapers, large and small, he notes. Ingram says it is too late. As journalism professor Jay Rosen has argued, the “view from nowhere” that mainstream media continues to defend is not only dying, but arguably does readers a disservice — since it often distorts the news in order to maintain a perfectly balanced view of events. Although some journalists have started to admit they have personal interests and causes, that remains rare.

“But the main point being missed,” Ingram writes, “is that social media is powerful precisely because it is personal. If you remove the personal aspect, all you have is a glorified news release wire or RSS feed. The best way to make social media work is to allow reporters and editors to be themselves, to be human, and to engage with readers through Twitter and Facebook and comments and blogs. Is there a risk that someone might say something wrong? Of course there is. But without that human touch, there is no point in doing it at all.”

A Competitor For Arianna

Tech Crunch reports: The Washington Post Company has launched its free, personalized, social news site and aggregator Trove in public beta. Trove aggregates news across subjects of interest and important headlines of the day, from more than 10,000 sources. The news site factors in a reader’s likes and dislikes, combining algorithms with ‘expertise from the newsroom’ (news of the day selected by an editorial team).

Trove takes advantage of Facebook Connect to pull in a user’s interests as outlined by his or her Facebook profile to help jump start the personalization part of the equation. More social media features and site capabilities are slated to be added in the coming months.

Arianna recently said competitors using pay walls are good for The Huffington Post. Trove, as noted, is free. She also has said a quality product can’t be produced by hundreds of freelancers. Perhaps a defense against the many unpaid contributors suing her for a share of the proceeds from her sale of the online news (and bloviating) source to AOL. That suit is so without merit, she says, that she devoted the lead article of one issue to it, citing all the reasons it was baseless and could never win, without once describing what the suit was about.