Monday, December 11, 2017
AutoLink

Electric, autonomous vehicles featured at Tampa auto show

TAMPA — The two biggest trends in the automotive space are ones you’ve likely heard of: electric vehicles and autonomous cars.

Both will feature prominently at the Tampa Bay International Auto Show today through Sunday. The event at the Tampa Convention Center showcases two floors of the latest vehicles from major manufacturers from Hyundai and Chevrolet to Infiniti and Cadillac.

This year, vehicles with varying degrees of electric power are in abundance, following an industrywide trend.

"We’re still at the very beginning of that wave that’s coming," said Evan Hirsh, a principal at PricewaterhouseCoopers focusing on the auto industry. "Once it happens, it’s going to be a tsunami."

That wave has already arrived in Tampa Bay. The Florida Public Service Commission held its first electric vehicle roundtable last month to discuss how to make charging stations more available.

The tide is turning in favor of electric vehicles because of a combination of cost and regulation. Manufacturers are constrained by increasingly stringent laws that require vehicles to be more energy-efficient. And as the cost of electric vehicle technology comes down, manufacturers can produce more of them. Consumers, too, catch a break on cost when it comes to fuel savings.

"And an electric car in its own way can actually be more fun," said Tom Voelk, an automotive writer.

The fun comes from better handling because of the placement of the battery. Some manufacturers are moving the battery — which is often very heavy — to the bottom of the car, which lowers its center of gravity. This, Voelk said, allows for better handling, especially around tight turns.

Many cars that will be on display are the increasingly popular plug-in electric hybrid vehicles, which can be charged by being plugged into a power source. These can drive a certain distance on a charge before they need to use gas.

But don’t expect everyone to be driving electric vehicles by next year. For electric vehicles to become more widespread, the cost of the batteries needs to come down.

"The dominant constraining factor will be the cost of the batteries," Hirsh said.

Cars with autonomous features, too, are gaining popularity. Earlier this week, the city of Tampa and the Tampa Hills-
borough Expressway Authority held the fifth annual Florida Automated Vehicles Summit.

While totally self-driving cars are still a ways off, smaller versions of autonomy are popping up in the latest models, such as cars with sensors that make the car brake to avoid hitting another vehicle or cars that steer to allow drivers to take their hands off the wheel for a few moments.

For consumers in the market for a new vehicle, now is a fairly good time to buy, Hirsh said. As the year wraps up, dealers and manufacturers are trying to get rid of the rest of their stock to make room for next year’s models.

Contact Malena Carollo at mcarollo@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo on Twitter.

Comments
Major auto manufacturer offers longer hours, incentives to fix airbags

Major auto manufacturer offers longer hours, incentives to fix airbags

TAMPA — With nearly 200,000 people around Tampa Bay still driving around with defective airbags that could kill them, a major automaker is trying to dramatically cut that number down this week.Fiat Chrystler Automobiles U.S. has launched Airbag Recal...
Updated: 10 hours ago
The Daily Drivers: A look back at some 2017 SUV models

The Daily Drivers: A look back at some 2017 SUV models

Across the auto industry, the popularity of trucks and SUVs continue to soar. We’ve had an opportunity to drive several 2017 SUVs — many of them premium models — and came away mostly impressed by the state-of-the-art when it comes to Sport Utility Ve...
Published: 12/05/17
GM unveils its driverless cars, aiming to lead the pack

GM unveils its driverless cars, aiming to lead the pack

SAN FRANCISCO — For more than a year, General Motors has tantalized investors with plans to build its future around self-driving cars.It has regularly announced big investments and progress reports, but the company has kept its prototype vehicles lar...
Published: 11/29/17
Updated: 11/30/17
’57 Ford Fairlane 500 convertible, Walter Bradway, 75, Inverness

’57 Ford Fairlane 500 convertible, Walter Bradway, 75, Inverness

In 1963, I was stationed in Germany. I spent off-duty hours in the base hobby shop. There I noticed the car in the storage lot, and for a few months it was looking neglected. It had been shipped to Germany from the United States during winter without...
Updated one month ago
Indian automaker plant is latest sign of Detroit comeback

Indian automaker plant is latest sign of Detroit comeback

It has been years since Detroit, birthplace of the American auto industry, was a steady producer of the manufacturing jobs that defined it as the Motor City. But its comeback is entering a new phase.The latest milestone came this week, with the annou...
Updated one month ago
Give thanks: Florida’s higher gas prices starting to dip again for holiday

Give thanks: Florida’s higher gas prices starting to dip again for holiday

TAMPA — As 5.5 million Americans hit the road this week, gas prices will be the highest for the Thanksgiving holiday in three years though they are starting to dip. The average for regular gasoline in Florida is $2.50, 40 cents more than a year ago,...
Updated one month ago
Electric, autonomous vehicles featured at Tampa auto show

Electric, autonomous vehicles featured at Tampa auto show

TAMPA — The two biggest trends in the automotive space are ones you’ve likely heard of: electric vehicles and autonomous cars. Both will feature prominently at the Tampa Bay International Auto Show today through Sunday. The event at the ...
Updated one month ago
Nearly 2.6 million Floridians expected to travel for Thanksgiving

Nearly 2.6 million Floridians expected to travel for Thanksgiving

TAMPA — Thanksgiving is predicted to bring out the highest number of travelers since 2005. According to AAA, The Auto Club Group, 50.9 million Americans — 3.3 percent more than 2016 — are expected to travel 50 miles or more for the holiday, including...
Updated one month ago
Tampa Bay residents have second-lowest amount of disposable income

Tampa Bay residents have second-lowest amount of disposable income

Tampa Bay residents have a mixed bag when it comes to disposable income. According to a recent income study by Trove Technologies, a California-based storage company, Florida residents have the highest amount of discretionary income in the southeast....
Updated one month ago