Cars News and Reviews Turkey Dealer- CARS NEWS AND REVIEWS

Posted by Carmella Ross on Wednesday

I'm on the road and see a VW dealer. There's snow in the forecast. I'm feeling generous toward my conveyance, so I decide to replace a wiper that has a loose patch of blade with a genuine VW part, from the VW dealer. So I pull into the dealership.

Photo by Ilya Plekhanov

I ask the way to the parts window - this is not the dealership near by me where I usually get my dealer business done - and wait a while. They have to page the clerk twice before he appears. I apologise for cutting into his lunch (it's 1.30pm) and he's gracious about it.

"What can I do for you, ma'am?"

"I just need a replacement wiper blade for my Golf."

"OK. Can I have your name and phone number?"

I blink.

Look, I know the lay of the land: people don't ask me for my phone number because I'm stunningly good looking. So why should the parts guy ask for my phone number?

"I'm sorry, I don't like to give that out. I'm paying cash. Can we do this without the phone number?"

"Sure. Do you get your car serviced here?"

"No." This is not my dealership: I'm just passing through. But I don't say that. Now they've woken up by stubborn streak.

"Um, OK. Can I have your VIN number?"

I nearly break out laughing. Unsuccessful at asking for my phone number, now he's asking for the vehicle identification number of my car? This is like the cashier at the grocery store asking for my social security number as I'm trying to pay for a jar of peanut butter. In my younger days I would have given the poor guy an earful. Now I'm much mellowed, and I just say,

"Oh come. You can sell me a common part without going through all that. I'm just looking for the left wiper for a 2012 Golf. You can do this."

"It's Volkswagen. They make us enter your data for every sale."

OK. What this guy doesn't know, and I'm not about to tell him: I'm a second generation Volkswagen owner. I've been in many VW dealerships, and I've stood at the window of many a parts department asking for anything from an air filter to the 24mm bolt that holds together the two halves of an engine (don't ask: that was a project of my dad's). But I have never been asked for my phone number or the VIN of my car, until now.

I shrug, and wait for this nice clerk to wrangle the system into selling me a wiper blade without me divulging my private information. I've even got him to sell me only the left wiper instead of the pair which he also claims Volkswagen makes them bundle. It comes to about $32.

("You were going to pay thirty-two dollars for one wiper blade?" CelloDad exclaimed when I told him the story. He knows me so well).

Then the parts guy surprises me by going around the desk that has so far separated us.

"We need to see the cashier", he says.

We go around to the swankier parts of the dealerships where the offices are and such. He puts my wiper blade on the counter, and I thank him. The cashier turns to me:

"Could you please sign the invoice?"

Whoa. What?

"Why do I have to sign the invoice?"

"Oh it's Volkswagen. They makes us do the paperwork."

I lean forward, lower my voice and I say, "Okay, this is just crazy, right? You guys ask me for my phone number, for my VIN, and now you want my signature. You know what? If I go to an auto parts store, I can get a wiper blade off the shelf and pay cash and nobody would ask me for my phone number or my VIN."

"Oh if you went to an auto parts store you'd have to give the VIN too. Otherwise how would they know what blade to give you? That's why we ask for it: to make sure you get the right one."

Wow. So now the carmaker hires such bad personnel they can't be trusted to get the right part from knowing the year and model of their cars? And this lady knows better than me what happens when you buy a part at an auto parts store? Like I've done a thousand times before?

She's fumbling around with envelopes and such. I can't see a proper cash register: so far it's been my part and that invoice.

"I'm sorry ma'am; I don't seem to have the change."

Who knew it was going to be this difficult? This was going to be a quick stop for a common part.

I push the wiper blade and its invoice in her direction. Still keeping my voice quite low, but speaking rather slowly, I say,

"Guess what: it's okay. I don't really need this wiper right now. You don't have the change, that's fine. Here. You bring this back to that nice man who helped me, and please tell Volkswagen that this customer is not going to buy a wiper this way."

And I walk out.

When I got home, I called my own dealer. My buddy at the parts department quoted $35 for two wiper blades, and yes, they are in stock, come in any time before 6pm. I had to ask:

"If I come in, are you going to ask me for my phone number?"

There was a nonplussed silence. My poor buddy was probably trying to figure out where I was going with this.

"Um, no: this is a regular part, you pick it up here, pay for it and that's it."

"That's why I LOVE you guys! You don't give me the runaround." I get effusive in my praise, and I tell him the story. He tells me that some dealers do that so they can put you on their mailing list and send you "offers".

Aha. Like I said, nobody asks me for my phone number on account of my outstanding beauty. So okay, I also played a game with that other dealer by not telling them that I'm just passing through (and so their offers are not interesting to me). But what a rigmarole for, in the end, no sale.

CelloMom's 2014 Turkey Award goes to all car dealerships that play stupid games with their customers. Wake up: this is the internet age. Ever heard of Yelp? Yeah, that Yelp. So don't play games, and don't lie to your customers. You can't get away with that kind of stuff, without everybody hearing about it.



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Cars News and Reviews Science on a T-shirt- CARS NEWS AND REVIEWS

Posted by Carmella Ross on Thursday

Twitter can be extremely useful for many reasons. It can be a waste of time. It can be a fun waste of time!

My favourite hashtag this week is #scishirt. People post selfies of their science-themed T shirts. Some have institution's logos, often re-worked to get some effect. Some are funny. Some make you think, Oh God that's way over my head. But it's great to see how scientists are into their science.

Here's one for justifying slacking in the lab:


And #SciShirt is not just for in the lab:


Here is a cool astronomer #SciShirt:


This is one of my favourite finds this week! Rather than "back-of-the-envelope", this derivation is "front-of-the T-shirt"!


Which is even better than this one:


And I will add my own, a long-time favourite. The Maxwell equations describe the electromagnetic waves which make up light. Geeky? - you bet! You can tell it's me, because I'm about to saw - I mean practice - on my cello. This is actually the second version of this T-shirt for me: I bought the first one several decades ago. That one was bright yellow with blue letters. I wore it until it had so many holes it wasn't really decent any more. But last spring I found this one!

Go on: check out #SciShirt. You won't be sorry.



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Cars News and Reviews Tesla Taxis- CARS NEWS AND REVIEWS

Posted by Carmella Ross on Saturday

What do you think of when you hear the word "Taxi"?

The answer depends on where you live. New Yorkers think Ford Crown Victoria painted in that iconic yellow. (So iconic, no privately owned car comes in that colour. Which is a pity, because it would make for a badly needed break from the reds, black&whites and blues on American streets).

Photo by David R. Tribble

London has its own iconic taxi, the FX4 with the cavernous passenger compartment that has plenty of space for luggage, baby stroller or cello. London's hackney cabs have recently abandoned the traditional black garb, and now come arrayed in a bewildering plethora of advertising graphics. Some can be amusing, but personally I find them a blight on the streetscape.

Photo by Darren Hall

Mumbai's cabs (mostly Fiats) are a bit of everything: yellow on top, black on bottom, and adorned with advertising.

Photo by Bernard Gagnon

Taxis in Berlin tend to be either Volkswagen or Mercedes, tinted a pleasing beige. Dutch taxis are black Mercedes, sometimes with a discreet Taxi sign on top, all provided with the special blue licence plates. No advertising.

Germany and Holland are egalitarian places where public transport is excellent and used by just about everybody. Taxis are for business people and tourists. Not surprisingly, the largest number of Dutch taxis are deployed in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam corridor, which includes Schiphol airport.

From a well-appointed Mercedes it's really only a small step to another luxury car: the electric Tesla. So there is now a fleet of Model S Teslas servicing the airport. In a specious bit of greenwashing, Schiphol claims the Teslas help it be a greener airport - conveniently sweeping the megatonnes of carbon from its flights under the green rug.


Undoubtedly the three taxi companies running the Teslas enjoy hefty tax benefits from the electric cars, since Dutch vehicle taxes are kind to low-emission vehicles while being downright punishing on gas guzzlers. Inside, these taxis are equiped with 4G wireless service, so that the executive never needs to shed his electronic shackles.

The Dutch Tesla taxis made the news because there is a fleet of them. Meanwhile in Norway, where electric cars are extremely popular (and get their electricity from hydropower), Teslas have been used as taxis as well. Here is a Model S convertible seen at Gardermoen, Oslo's airport.

Photo by siggywinter

I'm not sure how useful a two-seater is as an airport taxi. You could pick up only a single passenger with not too much luggage. But I would become a Norwegian taxi driver just to drive this thing.



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Cars News and Reviews Average Work Commute Takes Six Weeks a Year- CARS NEWS AND REVIEWS

Posted by Carmella Ross on Sunday

When I was growing up, we lived on the south side of Delft, a Dutch city of 100,000; my mom went to work on the north side, a 30-minute bike ride away, or 10 minutes by car if the weather was very bad. Her friends and acquaintances were always amazed: "You work all the way on the other side of town?"

But that was back when school children and working people still came home for lunch. If you lived 30 minutes from work, it would be hard to come home, have a decent lunch, and come back in the time normally allotted for lunch, about 90 minutes.

In places where workers don't come home for lunch, it turns out about half an hour is the average commuting time. This is true across the board in developed countries (including today's Netherlands).

Average commute times by zip code

This map shows the commute time in the US by zip code (a click on the map links to the interactive version). The countrywide average commute is - drumroll - 25 minutes. Metropolitan areas, where traffic congestion is a major issue, typically have longer averages, but only for those commuting into the city from its surburbs or ex-urban sphere.

You can see this very clearly on the commuting map: places like St. Louis or Kansas City have a core with commuting times in the 10-15 minute range, surrounded by rings of neighbourhoods with progressively longer commutes, an occasional one topping 60 minutes.

The job at the end of an hourlong commute had better be worth it! It turns out about 30 minutes is at the long end of how long people are willing to go for their daily tasks, be it commuting to a cubicle, fetching water, or doing construction work. And it holds whether the commute happens on foot or by bike, car or transit.

This is why many large cities spawn sub- or ex-urban satellites with employment opportunities that make it possible for people to live closer to where they work, while still being reasonably close to the city centre. An example is the Route 128 corridor around Boston.

Still, if you do the average commute, that's one hour that you spend getting to and from work each working day. Added over a year, that's the equivalent of 6.5 working weeks.

Think of what you could do with an extra six weeks every year!

If you take the train to work, or are a passenger on a rideshare, you can at least read, deal with your email stream, or play games on your commute. If you drive the commute you can't do those things. (Note: I didn't say you shouldn't. I said you can't. Because you can't afford to take your eyes off the road. You really can't).

No wonder telecommuting is on the rise. The internet has been a great enabling technology in this trend. The numbers vary wildly (depending on how you ask the question) but surveys indicate that more and more people telecommute at least part of the time. About three million American professionals work from home full time.

The advantages are legion: you tend to be much more productive outside the office with its many distractions; you live without the commute stress; you can easily do short errands, like picking up your children from school; you save big on car insurance / transit tickets. And you can get up later and still get to work on time, and you can work in your pyjamas.

Sure, there's nothing like an actual meeting where everybody is in the same room. But you'd hope that such meetings don't happen every day (or how would you get anything done?) And some jobs require that you be physically on the job. But there are plenty of jobs that don't require that. So if you can do them from home, you'd improve your own life, and you'd free up road and transit space and make the commute easier for those who have to show up for work.



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