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New online car sellers promise to disrupt industry

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South Africa’s second-hand car market is gathering steam, especially with the likes of online startups like CarZar that offer a 30 minute sales service and data-based pricing.

Digital disruption is rapidly gathering steam in South Africa’s second-hand car industry, with tech start-up CarZar offering an online-only model, a 30 minute sales service and data-based pricing. The car industry is one in a long line of industries which have been vigorously shaken up by online business models with lean set-ups, low costs, no middlemen and fast turnaround times.

Fernando Azevedo Pinheiro, joint MD of CarZar, says that with internet connectivity in South African constantly on the rise, more and more consumers are utilising services provided online or through mobile apps. This opens a series of opportunities in different industries which have not innovated much in the last few decades. With the tough economy, the price gap between new and used cars is widening, making second hand cars a very attractive option as new cars are now out of reach for many people.

“These influences combined mean that the prestige of owning an expensive car is slowly being replaced by a more utilitarian attitude towards cars.  The auto-trade market as we know it today will look fundamentally different in the next five to ten years, in our view. The demand for second-hand cars is, therefore, on the rise.”

Michael Muller, joint MD, says disruption forces traditional businesses to reinvent themselves to compete with nimble startups. “In South Africa, the taxi, hospitality, media, property and electronics industry have all been turned upside down by online entrants. Now it is the turn of cars.”

He says a number of factors have come together to create a ‘perfect storm’ of disruption in the auto-trade market. “The way we use cars is changing, fundamentally and rapidly. The Uber phenomenon is showing no sign of letting up and car sharing apps are on the rise. Major car manufacturers are looking into models which allow people to borrow rather than own cars.

CarZar is funded by Cape Town-based venture capital firm, Silvertree Capital. “Ultimately our model is all about helping consumers sell their car as quickly and easily as possible. We offer online evaluation in 30 seconds. The price is decided on a data-based algorithm and if the quote is satisfactory acceptable, you book a physical assessment slot, online. A valuator visits you and, if the offer is suitable, the deal is done – paperwork and all – in less than 30 minutes. The money is in the bank that same day!”

Cars

Why sports cars make us feel good

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Forget romance, fine dining or an epic boxset binge – new preliminary research reveals that driving a sports car on a daily basis is among the best ways to boost your sense of wellbeing and emotional fulfilment.

The study measured “buzz moments” – peak thrills that play a vital role in our overall wellness – as volunteers cheered on their favourite football team, watched a gripping Game of Thrones episode, enjoyed a passionate kiss with a loved one or took an intense salsa dancing class. Only the occasional highs of riding a roller coaster ranked higher than the daily buzz of a commute in a sports car.

Working with neuroscientists and designers, Ford brought the research to life with the unique Ford Performance Buzz Car: a customised Ford Focus RS incorporating wearable and artificial intelligence technology to animate the driver’s emotions in real time across the car’s exterior. 

Watch the video here https://youtu.be/AFpt6jziFsU

“A roller coaster may be good for a quick thrill, but it’s not great for getting you to work every day,” said Dr Harry Witchel, Discipline Leader in Physiology. “This study shows how driving a performance car does much more than get you from A to B – it could be a valuable part of your daily wellbeing routine.”

Study participants who sat behind the wheel of a Ford Focus RS, Focus ST or Mustang experienced an average of 2.1 high-intensity buzz moments during a typical commute; this compared with an average of 3 buzz moments while riding on a roller coaster, 1.7 while on a shopping trip, 1.5 each while watching a Game of Thrones episode or a football match, and none at all while salsa dancing, fine dining or sharing a passionate kiss. 

For the research, Ford took one Focus RS and worked with Designworks to create the Buzz Car:

From concept, design and installation to software development and programming, the Buzz Car took 1,400 man-hours to create. Each “buzz moment” experienced by the driver – analysed using a real-time “emotional AI” system developed by leading empathic technology firm Sensum – produces a dazzling animation across almost 200,000 LED lights integrated into the car. The Buzz Car also features:

  • High-performance Zotac VR GO gaming PC
  • 110 x 500-lumen daylight-bright light strips
  • 82 display panels with 188,416 individually addressable LEDs

Driver state research

Researchers at the Ford Research and Innovation Center in Aachen, Germany are already looking into how vehicles can better understand and respond to drivers’ emotions. As part of the EUfunded ADAS&ME project, Ford experts are investigating how in-car systems may one day be aware of our emotions – as well as levels of stress, distraction and fatigue – providing prompts and warnings, and could even take control of the car in emergency situations.

“We think driving should be an enjoyable, emotional experience,” said Dr Marcel Mathissen, research scientist at Ford of Europe. “The driver-state research Ford and its partners are undertaking is helping to lead us towards safer roads and – importantly – healthier driving.”

Activity Buzz Moments *
Roller Coaster 3
Driving 2.1
Shopping 1.7
Game of Thrones 1.5
Football Game 1.5
Kissing 0
Salsa Dancing 0
Dining 0

* Average number of high-intensity buzz moments per participant

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Car that sees round corners

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Jaguar Land Rover is leading a £4.7 million (approximately R79 million) project to develop self-driving cars that can ‘see’ at blind junctions and through obstacles.

Britain’s biggest carmaker is leading a project called AutopleX to combine connected, automated and live mapping tech so more information is provided earlier to the self-driving car. This enables automated cars to communicate with all road users and obstacles where there is no direct view, effectively helping them see, so they can safely merge lanes and negotiate complex roundabouts autonomously.

Chris Holmes, Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Research Manager at Jaguar Land Rover said: “This project is crucial in order to bring self-driving cars to our customers in the near future. Together with our AutopleX partners, we will merge our connected and autonomous research to empower our self-driving vehicles to operate safely in the most challenging, real-world traffic situations. This project will ensure we deliver the most sophisticated and capable automated driving technology.”

Jaguar Land Rover is developing fully- and semi-automated vehicle technologies, offering customers a choice of an engaged or automated drive, while maintaining an enjoyable and safe driving experience. The company’s vision is to make the self-driving car viable in the widest range of real-life, on- and off-road driving environments and weather.

AutopleX will develop the technology through simulation and public road testing both on motorways and in urban environments in the West Midlands. Highways England, INRIX, Ricardo, Siemens, Transport for West Midlands and WMG at the University of Warwick join the AutopleX consortium, which was announced as part of Innovate UK’s third round of Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Funding in March 2018.

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