Toyota President’s Award

Posted by Smart Motors | Posted in Automotive, Awards, Car Care, Car Maintenance, Community, Employees, Madison, News | Posted on 23-04-2014

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Toyota’s President’s Award is a highly regarded distinction that is bestowed upon dealerships who excel in all facets of their operations.IMG_0675

Recognition as a President’s Award winner signifies that a dealership has shown not just high sales performance, but has provided outstanding customer service throughout sales and service transactions. These Award winning dealerships display high service retention rates and employ a variety of Toyota Certified staff among their sales and service representatives. We at Smart Motors have recently been awarded the Toyota’s President’s Award for 2013.

 

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Smart Toyota has earned the prestigious President’s Award seven years in a row since 2007. What does that mean to the average shopper looking for a new vehicle or service center? It means that our customers are happy customers! We’ve met and exceeded expectations far more often than not, and have given thousands of customers good reason to return to our business. The award shows that our staff is knowledgeable and friendly and that, company wide, our commitment to customer satisfaction continues through the life of a customer’s vehicle, not the length of their visit.

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Smart Express Lube – Remodeled and Reopen

Posted by Smart Motors | Posted in Automotive, Car Care, Car Maintenance, Driving, Madison, Service | Posted on 27-02-2014

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After nearly 4 months of destruction and subsequent reconstruction, the Smart Motors Express Lube is back to full-speed! As an “Express” lube facility, timeliness is essential. Our recently renovated no-appointment Express Lube facility has practically doubled in size, with literally twice as many service bays and a larger and more comfortable and convenient guest lounge.

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The reasoning behind the renovation was the aforementioned essential: timeliness! Our service customer base grows steadily every year and our hard-working Express Lube employees were becoming limited by their facilities and equipment, causing prolonged visits for our customers. Adding four additional bays to the four existing bays, all complete with the necessary equipment to perform routine oil and filter changes, tire rotation and repair, and a variety of other related services, will provide the staff with the space and tools necessary to quickly and conveniently serve our incoming guests.

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What has become somewhat routine for us here at Smart Motors in recent years, this substantial project was deemed essential for our continued growth, with long-term benefits greatly outweighing some short-term setbacks and challenges. The expanded Express Lube is sure to offer the outstanding service that Smart Motors customers have come to expect, combined with convenient no-schedule maintenance and lots of practical amenities that make for comfortable visits. The best part? Now we can accommodate even more guests and be introduced to new customers.

 

Whether you’re due for your next oil change, or have yet to experience Smart Motors’ award-winning service, come check out the newly expanded Express Lube.

 

 

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Getting to know Gompo

Posted by Smart Motors | Posted in Community, Family, Madison, News | Posted on 21-01-2014

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Through a connection with local organization, Chenrezig Fund, we have been able to support a young boy in India, and help provide him with necessary education.

Our young friend’s name is Gompo Dorjee, a ten year old Tibetan boy who lives in Delhi India. The youngest of three, Gompo has followed his two older brothers to the Tibetan Children’s Home where he is learning Tibetan, as well as Hindi and English. We have exchanged some correspondence with Gompo and it is obvious that he is a good spirited young man who enjoys the company of his brothers and friends at the school. Below is a Christmas message he sent us, as well as some photos. We look forward to hearing more from Gompo and to learn about his progress in school.

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Dear Sponsor,

Tashi Delek! How are you? Hope you are fine there. Here I am also fine and doing my studies well. One final exam is finished now and I am going to class 5. I am very happy because Christmas day is coming near I hope you also [are happy]. In our Hostel I had two best friends. We always play football because I love to play football and my favorite color is green and blue. How’s weather there? Here lots of cold and I am very lucky that I had got such a father like you. I will never forget your support. Lastly I will pray for your long life and may all your dreams come true. Wishing you a merry Christmas and happy new year.

Your Son,

Gompo Dorjee

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Quick Jump Start Guide

Posted by Smart Motors | Posted in Automotive, Car Care, Car Maintenance, Driving, Service, Winter Driving | Posted on 18-12-2013

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Your vehicle’s battery is responsible for starting your vehicle, as well as powering a variety of electrical accessories. An alternator recharges your battery while the vehicle is running, but your battery may become drained for a variety of reasons, including extreme temperatures, leaving lights on, or simply old age. No matter what the reason, a dead battery can leave you stranded, and frustrated. If you believe the battery is the culprit of your car-starting woes, follow these simple steps for a successful jump start.

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1.     Park the booster vehicle close but not touching the vehicle that needs to be jumped. Once in position, shut off the booster vehicle.

 

2.     Begin the process by clamping one of the positive jumper cable ends (red) to the positive battery terminal (labeled with a “+” on the battery) of the dead vehicle.

 

3.     Connect the other end of the positive cable (red) to the positive battery terminal on the booster vehicle (again, confirm that a “+” is next to the battery terminal).

 

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4.     Connect the negative cable end (black) to the negative battery terminal on the booster car (marked with a “-”). Finally, attach the other end of the negative cable to an unpainted metal surface on the engine of the dead car.

 

5.     Start the booster vehicle and allow it to idle for about 1 minute before attempting to start the dead vehicle.

 

6.     Start the dead vehicle and let the two vehicles idle for a few minutes.

 

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7.     Once the dead vehicle is started and running smoothly, disconnect the jumper cables in the reverse order that they were connected.

 

8.     Drive the revived car to somewhere safe and secure before shutting off the engine.

Note: If the dead vehicle is not starting after  a few attempts, check all connections and reposition if necessary. You may also need to let the booster vehicle idle for up to 5 minutes while connected to the dead vehicle, in order to reach an adequate charge.

 

 

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How Fuel Cells Work

Posted by John Dolan | Posted in News | Posted on 11-12-2013

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Keep Loving Your Car

Posted by Smart Motors | Posted in Auto Body, Auto Glass, Automotive, Driving, Madison, News | Posted on 10-12-2013

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When consumers shop for their next car purchase they spend countless hours online, driving through lots, and garnering insights from friends, relatives and strangers. The goal, obviously, is to find the perfect car that will suit their needs and keep them driving happily for

IMG_0453years to come. Most dealers, and certainly we here at Smart Motors, aim to help consumers do exactly that; find the perfect car for them. However, as we all know, life happens, people change, and sometimes that dream car can become less than ideal. We take issue with that here at Smart Motors, and want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your vehicle, so you can continue to drive with a big, care-free smile.

 

Our loyal customers know that bringing their Toyota back to Smart for service is a great way to keep their vehicle running in tip-top shape, which certainly adds comfort and ease to daily driving. However, we strive to go beyond routine maintenance and complimentary carwashes, and really want to ensure that you like driving the car you’re driving. We have two dedicated Quality Assurance Managers who are positioned to aid customers who do find themselves lacking in love for their current chariot. Roger Ingalls and Chad Nettesheim, our Quality Assurance Managers, aim to please. It’s their goal, and a goal for all of Smart Motors, to make sure th

at our customers are driving happy. Chad says it’s as simple as asking customers, “Hey, how is everything going with your car? Is there anything you don’t like about it?” If the answer is, “Yes,” then odds are Chad and Roger can help with a solution.

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Whether there are small cosmetic blemishes that you find frustratingly unsightly, your car needs a serious deep cleaning, or the absence of modern amenities is getting you down, we’ve got options to satisfy. From our service drive and guest lounge, we’re ready to provide you with a variety of options to not only keep you car running great, but looking, feeling, and functioning just as well. We offer fixes for cosmetic body damage; including spot paint repair, paintless dent removal, and even glass repair or replacement. A full detail shop offers intensive cleaning inside and out, from upholstery steam extraction to waxing and buffing. Of course, if you’re looking to update your vehicle with roof racks, mud flaps, electronics and more, we offer a full line of accessories to help you customize and optimize your vehicle.

 

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Of course, if you don’t feel that your vehicle is suiting you well, and want to explore the option of a new vehicle entirely, our Quality Assurance team can take the hassle and frustration out of evaluating your current vehicle and finding new options that would be a good fit. With tools to provide information about equity, trade-in value, and cost calculation, we can easily assist you in making a smart choice.

 

As a company who genuinely cares about their customer’s satisfaction, Smart Motors does strive to go above and beyond to keep guests happy. Our Quality Assurance Managers are just another example of this, and help make Smart Motors a great place to purchase or service your vehicles.

 

If you need to contact our Quality Assurance Managers, you can email them with questions, comments, or concerns.

Chad Nettesheim at CNettesheim@smartmotors.com and Roger Ingalls at RIngalls@smartmotors.com

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Toyota FCV Fuel Cell Concept Moves Ahead

Posted by John Dolan | Posted in Automotive, Community, Driving, Events, Hybrids, News | Posted on 09-12-2013

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The annual Tokyo Auto Show is known for its edgy concept cars, but this year the show featured a ‘radical’ technology from Toyota that is scheduled to go into global production in 2015 — the Toyota Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV) Concept.  

 

Although there have been reports that those of us in the United States won’t see it until much later, Toyota has hinted that it may make the FCV available in select regions of the country beginning in 2015.  The absence of a developed hydrogen fueling infrastructure here in the US remains a huge obstacle to adoption of this technology.  Yet, Toyota says it expects to sell a production vehicle based on the FCV in the United States, targeting areas where hydrogen fueling is available.  In all likelihood that means California where 10 of the nation’s 28 or so public hydrogen fuel stations exist.  Further, the California Fuel Cell Partnership has an action plan in place to develop 46 retail hydrogen fueling stations in six key California communities at a cost of about $180 million over the next four years; $60 million will come from industry and $120 million from government.

 

According to Catherine Dunwoody, CaFCP’s Executive Director, fuel cell vehicles are coming to California and the infra-structure needs to be in place, “By 2017, automotive manufacturers plan to place 50,000 zero-emission fuel cell vehicles in customer hands.  FCVs will provide the performance, durability, driving range, and comfort that customers want, and meet the nation’s need for a domestic fuel that is better for the environment”.  No one expects anything like this to happen over night, but the bottom line is that the funds have been allocated for more stations and there is a plan in place with future funding.  This funding is being justified by future demand allowing for additional expansion of H2 stations to meet the potential mass adoption of hydrogen-based vehicles.

 

Utilities in Japan have already started putting in more stations as part of a pilot program co-sponsored by Toyota.  For this reason, Toyota will initially launch the FCV in four Japanese cities — Tokyo, Chukyo, Kansai and Fukuoka during 2015.  From there it will come to Europe next, where there is a more developed H2 fueling network and to California and then possibly, Hawaii after that, targeting areas where hydrogen fueling is available.

Toyota is serious about hydrogen fuel cell cars and the development of its technology began in 1993 concurrent with the research and development on the Prius.  When Toyota

Rearfirst launched the gas-electric hybrid which has since become the industry standard, the response from the auto industry and mainstream America was pretty skeptical.  Through relentless engineering and continuous improvement and a solid three generations of the model, Toyota developed the Prius brand into a hybrid standard.  This is the company’s plan with hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

 

 

Fuel cell cars are basically extended-range electric cars — only a hydrogen-powered fuel cell stack serves as the range extender instead of a conventional internal combustion engine as in the Chevy Volt.  Toyota believes that this is the best solution to meet the future challenges of dwindling energy sources and increasing emissions.  A fuel cell vehicle produces zero emissions during operation and hydrogen is one of the more abundant elements around, although it needs to be extracted (separated) from others (such as H2O).  The hydrogen isolation process can be driven by energy sources such as natural gas, but solar energy would have the least environmental impact.  A hydrogen station, a storage or filling station for hydrogen, could be located along a road on the hydrogen highway, or in the home as part of the distributed generation resources concept.  A hydrogen highway is a chain of hydrogen-equipped filling stations and other infrastructure along a road or highway, such as the one the California Fuel Cell Partnership is developing.  Ultimately, a hydrogen highway would link states and countries.  Italy and Germany are collaborating to build a hydrogen highway between Mantova (Italy) and Munich (Germany).

 

 

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The Toyota FCV Concept that is making the rounds on the auto show circuit this season features it’s own fuel cell stack and a pair of high-pressure hydrogen tanks.  It is roughly the size of a Camry and has a range of around 310 miles per hydrogen fill-up.  Once the fuel stacks are depleted, it takes just three minutes to refuel.  Toyota says the FCV would also be capable of powering the average Japanese home for more than a week using the same amount of hydrogen.  Toyota is keen on developing home and even neighborhood fuel cell power in Japan where there has been a series of recent natural disasters.

 

According to a Toyota press release, the fuel cell stack of the FCV develops a peak power output of around 100 kilowatts

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(134 horsepower) but there is no mention of the output of the electric traction motors onboard the vehicle.  Toyota did mention that the FCV concept is equipped with a high-efficiency boost converter, which increases the voltage so the size of the electric motor  and the number of fuel cells could be reduced.  The result is a smaller system offering enhanced performance at reduced cost.  We can expect a top speed for the FCV to be at or just above 98 mph which was the top-end for the fuel cell Highlander test vehicle that successfully completed cold-weather testing during the 2,700 mile ALCAN Highway testing in 2007.  The 100kW output of the new FCV is more than twice that of the 2007 Highlander FCHV demonstration vehicle.  Although the fuel cell can deliver sustained power of 100 kilowatts, power delivery to the electric motor driving the front wheels is buffered through a lithium battery pack located under the specially designed body.  This allows the vehicle controller to alter power output quickly in response to acceleration and braking.

 

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The exterior styling of the FCV takes its design cues, says Toyota, from the operation of a fuel cell— conveying “the air-to-

water transformation (in fuel cells) with its flowing-liquid door profile and wave-motif fuel cap.”  The air and water themes are everywhere.  The large-mouth grille design typical of Toyotas these days, is beyond prominent on the FCV and symbolizes “taking in air”.  There are Prius cues in the roofline with a “floating roof” effect.  The FCV’s rear continues the “flowing water” theme and looks a little like the stern of a catamaran “emitting water” in its wake.  Even the color hints of water and air.

 

Toyota marketing executives are debating whether to include the upcoming fuel cell sedan into the Prius family.  The name “Prius” is loaded with marketing weight for both Toyota and its many customers.  The Prius is already a successful sub-brand with four models.  The “Hybrid Synergy Drive” power train branding will eventually be applied to every Toyota and Lexus.  More importantly, as a Toyota engineer mentioned nearly a decade ago at a training session prior to the launch of the Gen ll Prius, “Down the road, all we have to do with Hybrid Synergy Drive is take out the ICE (internal combustion engine) and replace it with a fuel stack and hydrogen fuel tanks and we have a fuel cell vehicle!”  Although not that simple, a fuel cell vehicle would fit right in with the rest of the family!

 

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Meet The Smart Team – Ashley H.

Posted by Smart Motors | Posted in Automotive, Community, Employees, Family, Madison, Service | Posted on 30-10-2013

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Here at Smart Motors, we know we’ve got some of the nicest, smartest, and most interesting people around the Madison area, but you may not be aware. So, in an effort to introduce some of our spectacular team, we’ll be presenting quick interview-style profiles. Today I sat down with Smart Motors HR Generalist, Ashley. Like all of our employees, Ashley plays an essential role in our everyday operations, and is an integral part of the smooth running Smart Motors machine. Take a few minutes to learn more about Ashley, and stay tuned for more chances to “Meet The Smart Team.”

 

(Matt) Is this your first interview?

(Ashley) Yes it is

Mine too, so this should go well!

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I know you’re from Madison, can you tell me more about your background? 

I was born and raised in Madison, graduated form Madison East High School, and then went to college, starting out as a nursing major. I went home for a summer and worked for Kraft, where I got placed in their HR department and really liked it. I eventually graduated with my degree in human resources management from the university of Wisconsin Eau Claire, and I also obtained my PHR, a certificate for professionals of human resources.

I didn’t know that you started at college for nursing. What intrigued you about nursing?

Probably the same thing that brought me to human resources, which is helping people.

 

It sounds like there was carry over that you may have not realized. Are there some things that you’re able to do here that you may have been able to in nursing?

Sure, helping and teaching. I like being around other people and learning about others likes and dislike, and helping in general.

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What are some of the main responsibilities you have here at Smart Motors?

I do payroll, pre-screening and hiring for new employees, as well as assist managers with disciplinary situations. Benefits administration management is also a prominent part of the position.

 

You said you’ve been here for nearly 6 years. What do you like and what has kept you here?

I love our culture. We are a family owned business, and I like that we try to keep that family atmosphere here, which can be difficult with continuous growth.  That’s where Human Resources comes in, putting on United Way events, or an employee appreciation party when we got the Presidents Cabinet award, bringing people together.  Running blood drives and getting out into the community makes work more familiar and comfortable, too. It doesn’t hurt that I like the people I work with, as well!

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You mentioned United Way and blood drives, among other events to try and engage the employees with community partners. Is that something you’ve been a big part of?

I’ve been the campaign leader and manager for the United way since I’ve been here. I love that part of my job. I do also organize the blood drives.

 

Is it easy to engage the employees with these efforts, or is it a Smart Motors mandate? Are the employees excited to participate?

Yeah, I think the employees are excited to participate; it’s evident when we do fun events, like chili cook-offs and United Way privilege week. No one has to do those things, it’s just fun and people enjoy coming to work when there are fun events. The blood drive is dependent on employee participation, and we always exceed our goal. We’re working towards expanding this with more employees and even customers. I don’t’ think the events would do well if the employees weren’t engaged, and we would probably stop doing them altogether. We also have Smart Motors volleyball and Softball teams, which are obviously the choice of employees. It’s good to see people wanting to spend time with some co-workers outside of work.

 

You obviously enjoy being involved in the UW and blood drive; do you find yourself getting involved with these organizations, or others, outside of work?

I do, I’m actually on the board of directors for 4-C’s (Community Coordinated Child Care), which is a community based childcare organization, a not-for profit in Madison. I’m in the first year of my term there. They’re directly supported by United Way, which we are involved with here. Since they’re a non profit and don’t have staff for certain positions, they can ask me human resources questions about policy, or things like the Affordable Care Act. They may need some guidance from another professional, so I’ve volunteered to offer my service and expertise.

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You’re from the Madison area. What’s kept you in Madison and what do you personally like about the city?

I love Madison’s diversity, the variety of lifestyle between East and West Madison.  I appreciate both for different reasons, East because I grew up there, and West because it has better shopping (laughs)! The events are great too: Bratfest, Taste of Madison, Rhythm and booms is always fun…we’re not a huge city, but it’s definitely a fun area. §

 

That’s it; a quick glimpse at one of Smart’s fantastic employees. We’ll be showing off more of our excellent staff in the future, so come back in the months to come.

 

 

 

Written By Matt Rice – Smart Motors’ Social Media Coordinator

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Winter Pests: Keeping Rodents out of Your Vehicle

Posted by Smart Motors | Posted in Auto Body, Automotive, Car Care, Car Maintenance, Driving, Pest Control, Winter Driving | Posted on 23-10-2013

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Does anyone remember Klondike Kat anymore?  His motto was:  “Klondike Kat always gets his mouse!”  Of course, he never did, but many of us could use a mouse catcher for our cars this time of year.

As the weather turns colder, rodents like mice and even rats look for warm places to nest and get away from the elements, and many find cars to be an ideal option.  Vehicles tend to be warm, dry, and full of little places to hide from predators.  Unfortunately, once these animals get inside, they tend to do a lot of damage.

A common hang out for these pests is under the hood, and they like to get inside things like the air filter housing, where they will chew up the filter to make nesting material.  Small animals will also go under the hood insulation, often dragging food along with them, like dog food, bird seed, acorns and walnuts.  If they don’t have food to bring along, they may feast on the wiring in the engine compartment and wreak havoc on your ability to drive the car.

Rodents can find their way inside the car, as well.  They typically can enter through the ventilation system, and love to nest near the heater fan, which is generally located behind the glove box on the right side of the dash, nearby or directly above the heater core.  The heater core stays warm long after you leave the car and have turned off the engine, making this spot an ideal nesting area.  These critters pack food and nesting material inside the fan blade, which looks similar to a hamster wheel, and throw the blade out of balance, causing noise and vibration during operation.  Other problems stemming from this include blocked vents, which impedes airflow, as well as complications from chewed wiring.

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Now, it’s bad enough to think about mice living in your vehicle, but it can get worse:  they can die inside the engine compartment or vehicle, as well.  Whether these bothersome tenants meet their demise trying to escape fan blades, chewing electrified wires, or otherwise, the outcome remains the same. The often hard-to-find remains can be foul smelling and continue to contribute to the aforementioned problems. Finding the culprit and eliminating the damage and the odor can be difficult and expensive.  How big of a problem is this?  We have seen damage over $10,000 caused by rodents.  And we see about one vehicle per week during the warm months with a problem, and sometimes 4 or 5 per week when the weather turns cold.  Fortunately for some owners, comprehensive insurance usually covers the cost of repairs (see your agent for coverage).

 

The best solution to this problem is to avoid the problem in the first place. Below are several tips that should help prevent rodents from exploring your chariot.

 

  1. Don’t store pet food or bird food in a garage or outside unless it is in a tightly sealed, mouse-proof container.  Food attracts rodents, and they will take that food into your car.mice-dryer-sheet
  2. Depending on how you feel about trapping, killing, or poisoning mice, the best way to keep them out of your car is to keep them out of your garage.  Setting traps or poison baits are one way, but moth-balls strategically placed in a garage (away from children and pets) can also be effective.
  3. Many boat and RV owners will stuff fabric softener sheets into compartments when the vehicles are put into storage.  Placing Bounce fabric softener sheets in the glove box, under the seats and even inside the hood insulation may keep mice away.  There is the added benefit of that fresh laundry smell, too!mice_vacuum
  4. Throw away garbage in your car.  Those dropped French fries between the seats are attractants to animals.  Keeping the interior clean will help keep the mice away.
  5. Get a cat!

 

 

A little prevention can go a long way to protecting your car from invasion this fall and winter, and can potentially save you from costly cleaning and repairs.

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Written by Matt Jones – Smart Motors Service Manager

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Plug-in Day: Electric Cars, Plug-in Hybrids Whizz and Whirr Up the Winding Road to Acceptance

Posted by John Dolan | Posted in Automotive, Community, Driving, Events, Hybrids, News | Posted on 15-10-2013

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DSCN0480The Third Annual National Plug-in Day held recently, included events in nearly 100 cities around the world.  Plug-in and electric car enthusiasts came together for an annual celebration of driving cars with a cord.  Electric cars and plug-in hybrids are increasingly popular and the world-wide event drew more than double the attendees compared to the year before.  The primary feature of each event was displaying the plug-in vehicles from the major automakers as well as the newcomers.  Scores of people had their first experience with vehicles that burn little or no gas.  This was the most important element of the event because most advocates believe that familiarity is the absolute key to popular acceptance of these vehicles and National Plug-in Day raised the bar on what is possible!

National Plug-in Day is ongoing proof that Americans, and drivers the world over are keen to drive vehicles that use little or no gasoline, cut down on airborne pollutants and keep1383193_365819993552808_2127503790_n our fuel dollars local.  The Silicon Valley event in Cupertino was a perfect example of the growth of the event, where approximately 2,000 attendees checked out nearly 300 vehicles on display from 20 major automakers.  Events in Seattle and the Los Angeles area had similar turnouts.  In Nashville, Nissan decided to promote electric cars by giving away free gasoline.  Cities from Maine to Hawaii hosted similar events and many saw a big increase in attendance compared to last year.  Initial numbers from Plug-in America, a coalition of first generation RAV4 EV owners and former lessees of Honda EV+, GM EV1, Ford Ranger and Ford Think City electrics from the “Who Killed the Electric Car?” era and long-time Plug-in advocates, pegged total US attendance at between 40,000 and 50,000 people.  According to the organizers, that’s a 43 percent boost in participation.

Closer to home, the Upper Midwest Plug-in Day held in Madison, Wisconsin featured over 25 electric vehicles on display, along with demonstrations, owner testimonials and test drives.  Some of the vehicles on display included home-built and concept vehicles along with all-electrics (Nissan LEAF and Tesla).  Various Plug-in Hybrids (Plug-in Priuses, Gen ll Prius Plug-in modifications, Ford C-Max Energi, Chevy Volt, and Wheego) were all equally represented.  Electric bikes and mopeds were also featured at the event.  Flux Mopeds of Madison, Len’s Electric Bikes and Ride Green Bikes of Milwaukee showed off their clean, quiet, 100% electric offerings.  In addition, Madison Gas and Electric was on hand to talk about their Madison-wide electric vehicle charging network and answer all power-related questions.  There were plenty of EV owners on hand sharing information on what its like to own and drive a plug-in vehicle.

National Plug-in Day was also marked in Sauk City, Wisconsin where the Free Congregation of Sauk County held a Free Forum on Energy, Climate and Our Future.  The social and environmental responsibility of cleanDSCN0557 energy was the theme of the day and Plug-in vehicles were on display outside of Freethinker’s Hall.  A Prius Plug-in, a Nissan Leaf and a Chevy Volt were on display and there were representatives on hand to answer all the questions.

Electric drive enthusiasts had plenty of success to celebrate on Plug-in Day.  Still, plug-ins only make up a tiny segment of the total auto market.  Slowly but surely, as National Plug-in Day underscores, many people are making that change, and the mainstream auto industry has taken note.  Higher fuel-efficiency standards and government subsidies have shifted the center-of-gravity a little more toward Plug-in and EV vehicles and it appears no automaker wants to be the one not moving forward with this technology.

The good news for consumers is that automakers have been dropping the prices of hybrids and EVs, making it easier to get into the game.  Reuters says that “automakers have slashed prices on their electric cars to help overcome consumer qualms about high costs and fears of driving range.”  This has been borne out by plug-in sales which have remained high month by month this year.  Sales rose as prices for these vehicles came down.  Recently, the Plug-in Prius joined the Volt and the Leaf at a lowered price-point as Toyota dropped the price of the 2014 model.  Toyota has always been very good at making complex electromechanical systems smaller, cheaper and more reliable.  And a lesson learned from the early history of the Prius just might indicate that Plug-ins may have an advantage at this stage of their history that the Prius did not – when the 2001 Prius went on sale in the United States Toyota sold only small numbers of that first gas-electric from 2001 through 2003, but it had big plans for the little hybrid from the start.

DSCN0558With the re-designed second-generation Prius in 2004, Toyota had a winner.  Since then, Prius sales have never looked back and now there is a family line of separate Prius vehicles, which are now Toyota’s third best-selling passenger car in the United States market.  The success of the Prius and the company’s hybrids in general, has paved the way for a much earlier acceptance of plug-in hybrids and EVs compared to early hybrid history.  According to the United States Department of Energy, around 40,000 plug-in electric vehicles were purchased by Americans in the first six months of 2013, that’s more than double the amount sold throughout the same period last year.  In 2012 there were 52,000 EVs sold, which was an increase from 17,000 in 2011.

So, compared to hybrid cars — which took about a decade to catch on in the U.S. and now represent four percent of the total car market — electric vehicles are doing better earlier in the cycle, historically, than hybrids after their first 30 months on the market. There were about 3,000 hybrids sold per month 30 months after the cars were first introduced.  Over the same time period, plug-in electric vehicles are selling at a rate of about 9,000 per month.  It is clear that there is a growing segment of car-buyers who are ready for this technology.

 

DSCN0559Toyota has always taken a long-term view of hybrid-electric technology planning not only in five year and ten year cycles, but twenty-five and even fifty year plans, as well.  This has worked out very well for Toyota.  Today, the company has built 5 million hybrids and sells 23 different hybrids around the world – and has plans to launch additional hybrid models each year going forward along with a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle coming on the market in 2015!  DSCN0560

 

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