Posted by Smart Motors | Posted in Auto Body, Auto Glass, Automotive, Driving, Madison, News | Posted on 10-12-2013
Tags: automotive, Smart Motors
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
years 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.
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.
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
Posted by John Dolan | Posted in Automotive, Community, Driving, Events, Hybrids, News | Posted on 09-12-2013
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
first 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).
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
(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.
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!
Posted by Smart Motors | Posted in Automotive, Community, Employees, Family, Madison, Service | Posted on 30-10-2013
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!
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.
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!
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.
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
Posted by Smart Motors | Posted in Auto Body, Automotive, Car Care, Car Maintenance, Driving, Pest Control, Winter Driving | Posted on 23-10-2013
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
Written by Matt Jones – Smart Motors Service Manager
Posted by John Dolan | Posted in Automotive, Community, Driving, Events, Hybrids, News | Posted on 15-10-2013
The 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 keep 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 clean 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.
With 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.
Toyota 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!
Posted by Smart Motors | Posted in Auto Body, Auto Glass, Automotive, Body Shop, Glass Repair, News | Posted on 25-09-2013
Over the last several months, a serious transformation has taken place at Ball Body Shop. The reputable local auto body center has taken major steps in setting itself apart from the competition, both in size and capability. A recent 8,000 square foot expansion makes the Smart Motors owned body shop the largest in the state, and the addition of state-of-the-art technologies, make it one of the most advanced.
The “face-lift” is far from being merely cosmetic, as Ball now has doubled its service capacity to nearly 300 vehicles per month. New and improved prep and paint booths, along with specific training, also allow Ball to speed through a previously laborious painting process in 45 minutes. Also being employed at the improved facility is a $20,000 computerized welder, which aids with frame and body reconstruction by recognizines vehicles by their specific make and model.
On top of these improvements are other impressive amenities, including in-house glass repair and a full-service rental fleet. As a truly full-service shop, Ball Body Shop can lend their impressive technology and talent to any make and model vehicle on jobs of any size. From paintless dent repair to major collisions, Ball is sure to have your car back to pre-accident condition in no time.
As a division of Smart Motors, customer service will always be of paramount importance at Ball, and customers can expect helpful and friendly service at every turn. Best yet? Ball works with all major insurance companies and is ready to help guide you through the repair process. A substantial investment has been made in improving the capabilities of this body shop facility, and members of Ball are ready to prove to customers that the improvements are worth every penny.
Ball Body Shop and Novus Glass – Madison are located at 2225 Eagle Dr. in Middleton, WI. Smart Motors is located at 5901 Odana Rd. in Madison, WI.
Posted by Smart Motors | Posted in Automotive, Driving | Posted on 23-08-2013
In a world of monogrammed golf balls, bedazzled cell-phones, and, of course, custom sub sandwiches, it’s easy to see that people want their possessions to be their very own, both in identity and functionality. This is equally true when it comes to our vehicles. We’ve come a long way since Henry Ford declared, “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black,” and the myriad options and accessories available to today’s car buyers allow them to ensure that their vehicle is one-of-a-kind.
Like any reputable car dealer, Smart Motors strives to ensure the utmost satisfaction of each new car buyer, and in their efforts to do so, provides customers with a multitude of add-ons and options. Although quite different from the auto customization shops oft seen on M-TV programming, Smart and their partners offer a range of practical products to enhance the appearance, functionality, and even the longevity of vehicles.
Many drivers aim to enhance or personalize the look of their vehicle with accessories, and Smart Motors can definitely assist in this venture. From wheels, shift knobs, and body moldings to window tint and customer leather seating, we’ve got what you need to make your car unique. However, many of the accessories we offer provide benefits far beyond looks. Buyers who wish to make their vehicle easier or more comfortable to use will appreciate items like side steps, remote engine starters, and even entertainment systems, while outdoor enthusiasts can find a variety of sports equipment racks and options to add to their ride. Finally, Smart offers a suite of products aimed to protect your
vehicle, adding longevity and value. Items like 3Ms Scotchgard® interior protectant, SkipChips protective body wrap, and Diamon-Fusion® glass protectant all help buyers safeguard their investment.
While you research and shop for your next vehicle, keep in mind that, although the “perfect” vehicle is hard to find, it can often be created. If the right mix of options doesn’t appear to be available in the model you desire, consider researching the vast library of extras available to you through auto manufacturers, dealers, and their partners. Smart Motors goes to great lengths to ensure that prospective customers have access to accessory information. Shelves stocked with product brochures are complimented by an impressive showroom that has current models outfitted with many of the post-production extras. The Smart website, smarttoyota.com, also has a helpful link to an accessories listing page. http://www.igaccessories.com/smartmotors/ With the wealth of information available, it’s easy to find the perfect accoutrement to your new carriage.
Like a custom tailored suit, a car that fits you “just right” is sure to be appreciated for it’s style and functionality. As you navigate the car-buying waters, remember that you can get what you want in a vehicle, even if it doesn’t appear to be standard equipment.
Posted by Smart Motors | Posted in News | Posted on 24-07-2013
It’s been two years since Smart Motors held its Hybrids On Parade (HOP) event here in Madison, Wisconsin, a showcase of over 200 hybrid and electric vehicles from 10 different states. The parade of vehicles set a Guinness World Record, which is still held today. The HOP event, along with many other hybrid vehicle-focused events, have both garnered interest in, and promoted the benefits of, these alternative fuel vehicles here in Madison. In our own backyard, as well as across the U.S., more and more consumers are educating themselves about, and ultimately choosing, these hybrid and electric vehicles.
In the years since the HOP event, hybrid and electric vehicles have grown steadily in U.S. market share, reaching 3.1 % of total vehicles, which was up over 40% from the previous year, according to Experian.com. Another reflection of America’s increasing affinity for adopting these alternative vehicles is the recent milestone of 3 million Toyota Prius’ sold, which occurred earlier this Summer. You need only look back a mere decade at the availability of hybrid and electric vehicles to see that we, collectively, have begun to embrace these new technologies. When the Prius hit the U.S. market in 2000, it was one of only two (Honda Insight) hybrid vehicles readily available. Today, nearly every major auto manufacturer offers hybrid technology; from entry-level brands like Kia, to premium luxury brands, including Porsche. Toyota alone now offers 8 hybrid or electric vehicles, including the brand new RAV4 EV (currently available in California only).
Here in Madison, the hybrid revolution presses on, with hybrids making up for a growing percentage of new car sales, and EV infrastructure improvements popping up all over town.
Our local utilities provider, Madison Gas & Electric, has gone so far as to install 26 EV charging stations across the community, making it easier for EV owners to stay fueled up, and making the choice to go electric that much more practical. (Check out the StoryBridge link below for a cool video)
On the anniversary of 2010’s Hybrids On Parade event, we’d like to extend a big thanks and congratulations to those who participated. Let’s continue to cultivate the growing hybrid and electric vehicle culture in our communities and beyond. Here’s to a cleaner, quieter, hybrid-filled future!
Posted by Smart Motors | Posted in Automotive, Driving, Family, News, Service | Posted on 02-07-2013
Tags: Maintenance, Road Trip, Safe Driving, Summer, Vacation
Heading off for a summer road trip? Here are a few pointers to help ensure that your trip goes smoothly.
WHAT TO CHECK BEFORE YOU LEAVE
Tire Pressure - Tires should be inflated to manufacturer’s recommendation; you can find the recommended tire pressure label inside the driver door-jamb, in the glove box of most vehicles, or in the owner’s manual. Under-inflated tires become hot, and can cause a blow-out. Properly inflated tires also save on fuel. Also, check your spare to make sure it is ready to use just in case.
Coolant – Make sure your anti-freeze/coolant is up to date and the level is full. Use only the coolant recommended by the manufacturer for your particular car, and have it serviced according to the recommended maintenance schedule.
Washer Fluid and Wiper Blades – With plenty of bugs flying this time of year you need to make sure you have a full tank of washer fluid. Make sure your wipers don’t streak, and that the rubber is not split or torn. Wipers should typically be changed once per year.
Engine Oil – Check your oil level, making sure it is on the full mark. Double check that your service is up to date, and if your trip will cause you to exceed the mileage that is recommended for your next oil change, change it early. Clean oil will protect your engine and keep it cooler better than dirty oil.
Battery – Hot weather is actually harder on batteries than cold weather. Inspect your battery terminals for excess corrosion. Corrosion can be cleaned off by making a paste with baking soda and water and scrubbing off with a wire brush. If your battery is older, it is a good idea to have it checked before you go on a long trip. Any signs of acid leakage and the battery should be replaced.
Belts and Hoses – Visually check that hoses do not appear to be leaking or bulging. Look at the underside of the belts, and if there are any cracks in the ribbing, the belts should be changed.
Lights – Make sure all lights work, including license plate and side-marker lights. Make sure the headlamp lenses are clean and clear for best night driving.
WHAT TO BRING WITH YOU
First Aid Kit – Have basic supplies like bandages, burn ointment, insect bite treatment, anti-biotic ointment and alcohol wipes available.
Water – You never know if you will find yourself stuck in a traffic jam on a hot day and not be able to get off the road to get drinks. Have water for all occupants available. Power bars are also good to have on hand in case you can’t get to food easily.
A Fully-Charged Cell Phone – Today’s cell phones are loaded with useful options from GPS to lodging suggestions. Of course, in an emergency, the ability to contact help is the phone’s most valuable function. Also, purchasing a car charger for your phone will ensure you’ve always got enough battery life.
A Flashlight with Fresh Batteries – Whether you have to locate lost items under seats, change a tire in the dark, or flag down assistance, a flashlight can prove very useful. Many smart phones can be used as a short-term flashlight by simply downloading an app.
A Road Atlas – GPS is great, but not always perfect for finding detours.
A Rain Suit – Even large trash bags can be used in a pinch, but it is a good idea to have rain protection in case you have to change a tire in bad weather.
OTHER FUEL SAVING TIPS
In addition to making sure your tires are properly inflated, here a few other tips to help save fuel:
Use Cruise Control – Studies have shown that by maintaining a steady speed over all terrains by using cruise control, you will improve your fuel economy.
Use A/C – It may sound counterintuitive, but A/C is more efficient than opening windows, because open windows create excessive drag. The most efficient is to do neither, but driving in a hot car can speed up driver fatigue.
Drive the Speed Limit – As unpopular as this might sound, every 5 mph you add will decrease your fuel economy by up to 10%. It becomes more pronounced over 65 mph.
Hopefully these tips will help you have a safe and trouble-free summer road trip!
- From Contributor, Matt Jones, Smart Toyota Service Manager and 18+ year automotive service and repair professional