Presenting ‘Cool’ Auto Glass!

While the new technology is presenting its inventions to the world, the automobile industry is also showing us their progress with keeping up with the technology. One of the inventions is ‘cool’ auto glass.

Since the summer is adding more and more degrees to help us sweat, the new concept of ‘cool’ auto glass is not a bad idea at all. The state Air Resources Board is also suggesting that this new invention could help us spend our summer cooler.

The federal studies found that the ‘cool’ auto glass could cut the inside temperature of car that is parked in the sun by about 12 degrees cooler, compare to the standard windows that are used in our vehicles today.

Keeping the interior temperature cool could actually help save our environment, because cooler temperature inside means less use of air conditioners. The new invention does not stop here. Less use of air conditioners also means less fuel consumption. The study shows that about 5.5 percent of America’s fuel, about 7 billion gallons of gas, goes to air conditioners.

There are two ways for the sun to transfer its energy. One way of transferring its energy is visible light waves. Stopping this form of energy is not practical, since blocking the visible light only means that the driver will not able to see out.

However, there is another form of heat transfer which is invisible ‘near-infrared’ waves. This form of wave is the answer to our ‘cool auto glass’. The creation of the new auto glass combines the thin layer of silver and other metal forms between the layers of the windshield, thus reflecting almost all infrared waves and keeping the inside temperature down.

According to Air Resources Board, the price involved in this project was estimated only about $111 per vehicle. The money that would be spent for new windshields would soon be exceeded by the cost of gas that you would be saving in a year or two.

However, the change will not take place overnight. The automobile companies and glass producers demand for more time required to take this change on their side and make adjustments.

The state California would be the first one to adjust to the new glass. However, if the change goes well, it will move on to the other states. And as for us drivers in California, let’s hope that the ‘cool’ windshield could visit us sooner to help us add -12 degree to the blazing summer temperature.

Nissan Buzz – Future Cars

Nissan Motors continues to make important strides in becoming one of the highest quality automakers on the scene in North America today. Long living in the shadow of Japanese stalwarts Honda and Toyota, Nissan is fighting back with a series of new or updated models to cut into the Honda-Toyota dominance. Can they succeed? You be the judge as we take a look at four coming attractions soon to make their appearance at a Nissan dealer near you!

Nissan Versa – Toyota’s Scion division has been a hit with the youth, while Nissan has been scrambling to provide models that can capture the interest of new drivers while being at the same time affordable. Scheduled for release by Summer 2006, the Versa will come with a 1.8L inline four cylinder engine and be available as either a five door hatchback or a four door sedan. The car will be manufactured in Mexico with a starting price in the neighborhood of 12 thousand dollars expected. FYI: The Mazda Verisa is a similarly named, but unrelated small car sold only in Japan.

Nissan Cube – Still in the “maybe it will be imported” stage, the new Cube is Nissan’s response to the Scion xB and the Honda Element. Seating five to seven adults, the Cube is exactly that: a box on wheels. Published reports suggest that the Cube will be released to the North American market by 2008.

Nissan Sentra – A new Sentra is expected to bow during the second half of 2006 as a 2007 model. Significant styling changes and an up market push are planned by Nissan to help the car compete more effectively with the VW Golf and Mazda 3.

Nissan Altima – The big change coming for the Altima is the introduction of a hybrid engine. Scheduled to hit Nissan showrooms by Fall 2006, this new Altima model will actually borrow Toyota technology to create Nissan’s first hybrid. The engine and the battery will be all Nissan, however; Nissan apparently needs an assist from its Japanese rival to enter the growing hybrid segment.

Beyond 2008 consumers can expect to see an updated Quest van makes its appearance with subtle changes on the remaining vehicles in Nissan’s line up. Additional models are in the concept stage; expect some to be shown at upcoming auto shows.

Although it is too early to confirm each of the four featured models, Nissan’s thrust in the coming years is to increase its share of the Generation “Y” market. Should the Cube and Versa make their appearance as hoped for, Nissan is likely to score some points with young drivers in two areas: style and price. Look out Honda and look out Toyota!

Autos Online – Safely

You can ask just about any person on the street, and he or she will tell you that this title is an oxymoron.

Well, it is not an unwarranted assumption, for there are many who in good faith have paid for online autos and who have then been defrauded one way or another; and they will not only agree, but also underscore, that indeed, yes, it is an oxymoron.

Online Auto Purchase – Nightmare Scenario No. 1

The 1968 Ford Mustang that a private seller in Michigan had offered to sell for a little more than Sanderson had planned to spend was the precise car he was looking for. Precisely: color, options, wheels, the lot.

So, his planned spending rose the 20% needed to meet the seller’s price, and he answered, yes, yes, I want to buy this car.

The Michigan seller emailed back, nice to know you, and delighted to do business. Just to make sure you know this is on the up and up, we will snail mail you a Certificate of Inspection, as well as our routing number and bank account; into which you should deposit 50% (plus $1,200 delivery charge) before we’ll ship the car. We trust you to pay us the remaining 50% upon acceptance of the vehicle.

Sanderson was convinced this was all on the level-the seller even had his photograph on the site that sold the car; and once he received the Certificate of Inspection, he wired the 50% plus shipping.

And that was the last he saw of his money, or the car, or the seller. The Certificate of Inspection turned out to be a forgery. The bank account he had wired the money to, by the time the police inquired, had been closed. There was no address for the seller, and Sanderson out a considerable amount of money.

Online Auto Purchase – Nightmare Scenario No. 2

Wilson, in his fifties and a prudent man by all accounts, and a lot more business savvy than Sanderson found the very thing he was looking for in Florida: a 1976 Jensen Interceptor series III saloon, hand-built in England. Wilson had been looking for one for years.

It was not the color he liked, but he could always have it repainted. And it was not cheap–well, he didn’t expect it to be. Eight emails later, and they had agreed upon a price.

And the seller, bless his heart, a man as cautious as Wilson himself, suggested they use an online escrow service to make sure the deal would go through smoothly, to everyone’s satisfaction. He even recommended a great looking company called reliable-escrow.com to handle the transaction. Wilson visited the site, and was impressed by the professional approach to the deal it presented. He felt reassured.

Everything was in place. As agreed, he deposited 50% of the purchase price (a small fortune) in the escrow account-the balance to be paid upon acceptance. Then he waited, and waited, and waited.

By the time investigators got around to it, reliable-escrow.com no longer existed (it had been registered in Russia), and Wilson had lost his small fortune.

Online Auto Purchase – Nightmare Scenario No. 3

Money exchanges hands. Shipping arrangements are made. The car arrives. Yes, it is the same year, model and color as stated in the ad, but some of the other statements stretched the truth a little. New tires, for one-these had hardly any thread left. The left headlight did not work, neither did the air conditioning, nor the rear seatbelts. This list did go on.

When challenged the seller referred to the contract which did-darn it, there it was-have an as is clause, and the agreement, not the ad, was the legally binding document here.

The buyer ended up spending an additional $2,350 on a $4,000 car to make it drivable, with no recourse to collect.

Good Intentions

Good intentions-admirable things that all too often fall short of proper follow-through-even when present in spades at the outset of an online auto deal are no guarantee that it will go through in the same spirit. Something is usually overlooked, and when the proverbial push comes to shove, the seller just does not want to eat the extra $500, sorry.

And at the other end of the spectrum-when the intention all along is to defraud you-take another look at the first two scenarios (the third may or may not have started out in good faith).

Internet Fraud

Now, if these first two scenarios were rare, isolated occurrences, this article would have no business being written.

However, Non-delivery of items purchased online constitute an impressive 24.9% of all fraud complaints filed last year with IC3-The Internet Crime Complaint Center, a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center (NWC3)-second only to Internet Auction Fraud, which was the most reported at 35.7%.

Vigilance

Therefore, when it comes to buying anything online from a private party-especially something as costly as an automobile-keep the following in mind:
o Be aware that if a problem does occur, it will be more difficult to resolve if the seller is located outside the United States-laws can differ widely country to country;
o Learn as much as possible about the seller, especially if the only information you have is an e-mail address;
o Before you make a payment for any purchase, you should verify the seller’s identity and contact details in case there is a problem with the delivery of the item;
o Ask the seller when delivery can be expected and whether the merchandise is covered by warranty if you need to exchange it;
o Use registered or certified mail to enable tracing; this will eliminate claims that the parcel was sent but must have been “lost in the mail;”
o Check that the seller information matches email, phone number and any bank account and location information;

And here is the most important advice of all:

o If you have any doubts about the identity and integrity the of seller-and when it comes to high-ticket items such as automobiles, even if you have no doubts whatsoever, and if all intentions appear angel-like: use an escrow agent.

An escrow agent or company is an independent third party that holds payment in trust until the buyer receives and accepts the item from the seller. While this service does incur a fee, it protects the buyer because the third party will hold the money until the goods have been received in good condition, inspected, and accepted; and only then releases the funds to the seller.

Internet Escrow

The principle and process of Internet escrow is the same as with buying and selling real estate-where, of course, the escrow company is deemed indispensable due to the amounts involved.
o The buyer or seller opens an account with the online escrow company;
o The prospective buyer of an item sends payment by wire transfer, check or credit card to the escrow company;
o The escrow company verifies that the funds indeed do exist, or that the buyer is who he represents himself to be and is in possession of the credit card, if used;
o Once this checks out, the escrow company asks the seller to ship the merchandise;
o Merchandise is shipped, and seller submits tracking information;
o Once the shipping site shows the merchandise as delivered the escrow company double checks to ensure the buyer has the goods in hand;
o The buyer now has an agreed-upon amount of time to either accept the goods or return it to the seller;
o Once accepted by the buyer, the escrow company releases the funds to the seller, less any processing fees and commissions.

This is all straightforward enough, if, that is, you are dealing with a legitimate online escrow company.

Fighting the Fighter

But the world, as we know, likes to throw us curves; and in this instance, the curve comes in the guise of escrow fraud.

Handling, as it does, substantial amounts of money, the bona fide escrow company is often itself a target of fraud-where look-alike phishing sites try to con you into providing them your confidential financial information; and where the escrow company concept itself is flagrantly abused by criminals who set up fraudulent escrow sites where money will only travel one-way: you guessed it, away from you.

In fact, the problem of fake on-line escrow sites is now so severe that some reputable and legitimate escrow sites have simply thrown in the towel.

Buyer Guardian, for example, recently shut its doors due to Internet fraud stealing their business, and posted the following note on their site: “We are sad to report that after careful and lengthy consideration we have made the decision to cease operations. This is a very difficult decision, and one that is made primarily due to the rapid growth of online escrow fraud.”

Many of these apparently bona fide escrow companies, established for the sole purpose of enriching the criminal, are set up off-shore-predominantly in Russia or China-where lax cyber crime laws (and sometimes questionable cooperation with U.S. authorities) makes it more difficult to shut the sites down and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Therefore, be sure to use only a bona fide online escrow company, preferably one that comes recommended by auction sites like eBay.

The Famous Bottom Line

If you want to ensure that you are not defrauded by an online transaction, do what house-buyers have done now for pretty much ever, use an online escrow company.

Here’s to peace of mind and a good night’s sleep.

And to successful online auto transactions.

By Ulf Wolf