Tag Archives: automobiles

Uber Autonomous Car Accident

Autonomous cars have clocked thousands of hours and millions of miles without having an accident. In fact, one of the original reasons for developing autonomous cars was to lower automobile accident rates. (According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2016 more than 37,000 people died in traffic-related accidents in the U.S. alone.)

Yet, despite all the precautions, technology, testing, training, and resources, an autonomous car operated by Uber (with an emergency backup driver behind the wheel) hit and killed a pedestrian on a street in Tempe, Arizona. This is the first reported pedestrian death that is linked to autonomous driving, and a stark reminder that the technology is still in an experimental stage. Although the technology has been around now for close to a decade, there are many unpredictable situations that the cars have not yet been programmed to handle. Many of these situations also present ethical dilemmas, as well as life-and-death decisions.

Uber has suspended testing the autonomous cars in Tempe, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Toronto. Toyota has also suspended its autonomous driving program.

What will be the impact on the public perception and the technology?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the pros and cons of autonomous cars with students.
  2. Show a video from Uber that explains its autonomous car project: https://youtu.be/27OuOCeZmwI
  3. Discuss public relations and crisis communications.
  4. Have student go online to read comments and stories about the accident.
  5. What statements did Uber make? What additional statement were made by other autonomous car companies?
  6. Did Uber take appropriate action following the accident?
  7. Divide students into teams. Have each team prepare a crisis communications plan for Uber. Include in the plan: spokespeople, news outlets, key message statements, timing of responses, social media, etc.

Source:  New York Times, Wall Street Journal, other news sources

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On-Demand Fuel Services Deliver Direct to Cars

Has your car ever run out of gas? Has it ever “run on fumes” while you search for a nearby gas station? For most people, these events have likely happened a few times. Wouldn’t it be nice if your car automatically had its tank filled up without needing to take it to a filling station? And maybe get oil changes and wipers replaced without needing to spend hours at a repair shop? Well, a new company named Yoshi has the answer to this dilemma.

Yoshi is an on-site refueling and car maintenance service that brings gasoline and other services directly to your car. Using an app, drivers can schedule fuel deliveries and select maintenance services. Yoshi’s trained mechanics pump the gas and handle maintenance while the car is parked at work or at home.

Refueling can be scheduled once ($7/delivery), or on a regular basis ($20/month). Additional services include oil change, car wash and detail, repairs, windshield fluid, wiper blade changes, window cleaning, and tire air check and fill. The service is currently in 12 cities and is also used by companies to keep their car fleets fueled up and ready to go.

Fill ‘er up.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the importance of clearly defining a target market.
  2. Poll students. Ask who would be interested in a system to automatically refuel their cars.
  3. Show Yoshi’s site: http://www.startyoshi.com/
  4. Show video of the service: https://youtu.be/xmqrZ2DvwVE
  5. For Yoshi, what is the target market? Consumers? Corporations?
  6. Divide students into teams and have each team develop a profile of a target market for Yoshi. Include demographics, psychographics, behaviors, values, attitudes, etc.
  7. Based on the target market profile, what makes this product unique for these customers?
  8. Debrief the exercise.

Source: Harlow, T. (1 March, 2018). New on-demand fuel service will allow Twin City drivers to skip the gas station. Minneapolis Star Tribune.

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Porsche Passport Subscription Services

Subscription services are everywhere. Today, consumers can receive monthly supplies of items including shaving gear, food, cooking supplies, diapers, clothing, pet food, and Porsche automobiles. Wait… Porsche has a subscription service for its cars? What’s going on?

Yes, Porsche has entered the sharing economy with its subscription service, called “Porsche Passport,” that allows members to drive up to 22 different models of cars, sedans, and SUVs each month. After all, why have the hassle of ownership if a car can be delivered when you need it via a mobile app?

The service isn’t cheap though. For $2,000/month, the service will allow customers access to eight different models, including the Cayman S and 718 Boxster. Add on another $1,000/month and customers have on-demand access to more models including the 911 Carrera S and the Macan GTS. The plan has a one-time activation fee of $500 and includes vehicle tax, registration, insurance, maintenance, and detailing (members buy their own gas). Members can switch cars as often as they want, enjoy unlimited mileage, delivery, and service. (The program is currently only available in the metro Atlanta area.)

What do you feel like driving today?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the importance of clearly defining a target market.
  2. Show Porsche Passport Web site: http://www.porschepassport.com/
  3. Show video: https://youtu.be/5pyPAYmpK0U
  4. Who is the target market for Porsche Passport?
  5. Divide students into teams and have each team develop a profile of a target market. Include demographics, psychographics, behaviors, values, attitudes, etc.
  6. Based on the target market profile, what makes this product unique for these customers?
  7. Debrief the exercise.

Source:  Brandchannel.com, Automotive News, other sources

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