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CENTREVILLE, Va., Sept. 13, 2017 -- New research from Carfax suggests that drivers may be behind the wheel of more than 325,000 previously flooded vehicles. That number is a 20% increase from 2016 and a stark reminder to consumers to do their due diligence when used car shopping.

Vehicles reported as flood damaged by a state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), insurance companies and more have washed up in every state, and these ten states have the most:

1. Texas – 51,000
2. Louisiana – 29,000
3. Pennsylvania – 20,000
4. Florida – 19,000
5. Kentucky – 16,000 
6. Illinois – 15,000
7. South Carolina – 13,000
8. Virginia – 13,000
9. North Carolina – 13,000
10. Michigan – 11,000

Slow sales, good performance in the U.S. News Best Cars rankings and significant incentives make these cars, trucks and SUVs smart buys this September.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 8, 2017 -- U.S. News & World Report, the global authority in rankings and consumer advice, today unveiled September's list of the Best Cars to Buy Now. To make U.S. News' monthly list, a car has to meet three criteria: declining sales, strong manufacturer incentives and excellent scores in the U.S. News Best Cars rankings.

"Consumers are not only in a strong negotiating position with these vehicles, but they can also take advantage of some great incentives," says Jamie Page Deaton, managing editor of U.S. News Best Cars. "Every vehicle on the list also has great reviews from the automotive press, hitting the sweet spot of quality and value that makes a new car a smart choice."

This month, U.S. News Best Cars has identified 8 cars, SUVs and trucks that are sure to fit any lifestyle. Consumers can expect significant savings on everything from fuel-sipping hybrids, rugged trucks, sports cars and family SUVs.

TUSTIN, Calif., Sept. 12, 2017 -- In a recently released study about autonomous vehicles, automotive marketing consulting firm AutoPacific found that 54% of vehicle owners think that self-driving vehicles are a "good idea" and 23% are interested in owning one. The study contains results from over 900 vehicle owners who were asked about various aspects of self-driving vehicles, and also explores consumer opinions, expectations and the role of semi-autonomous features. "The automobile is moving toward increasingly autonomous technology, from lane departure warning systems to cars that can completely drive themselves," says AutoPacific president George Peterson. "AutoPacific set out to explore consumer opinions to help auto manufacturers navigate the best path to maximum customer acceptance."

Consumers interested in autonomy find the ability to relax or be more productive during their drive appealing, yet are also interested in being able to be in a more comfortable seating position. Interest, however, doesn't come without concerns. Rejectors and acceptors alike share concerns over vehicle hacking and still want the ability to take over controls if needed.

IRVINE, Calif., Sept. 13, 2017 -- If you missed out on Labor Day deals, don't worry, many of them are still available through the end of the month. In fact, the expert editors at Kelley Blue Book have compiled a list of their top 10 lease, financing and cash back deals for new models available through September, including four offers of more than $4,000 cash back and several leases under $200 per month.

"This month's list of good deals on good cars features some of the biggest savings we've seen all year," said Jason Allan, managing editor for Kelley Blue Book's KBB.com. "With a $199 per month lease on our Mid-Size Car Best Buy of 2017 and $7,500 cash back on a family-size SUV, September's collection boasts a compelling collection of deals on a wide variety of vehicles."

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COSTA MESA, Calif., Sept. 13, 2017 -- While non-premium and premium vehicle owners are equally satisfied with the level of technology—and its ease of use—in their new vehicle, a degree of "lost value" still exists since most owners don't completely understand and use all available vehicle technology, according to the J.D. Power 2017 Tech Experience Index (TXI) Study,SM released today.

Overall owner satisfaction with new-vehicle technology among both premium and non-premium owners averages 750 (on a 1,000-point scale)

Satisfaction is highest in the large segment (777), followed by the compact segment (753); compact premium segment (751); midsize premium segment (746); midsize segment (744); small premium segment (739); and small segment (732).

The study, now in its second year, measures drivers' experiences, usage, and interaction with 35 driver-centric vehicle technologies at 90 days of ownership. The study provides subscribers with an understanding of opportunities for minimizing the gap between driver experience and execution. The major technology categories analyzed in the study include entertainment and connectivity; comfort and convenience; driving assistance; collision protection; navigation; and smartphone mirroring.

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 13, 2017 -- On August 9, the California Energy Commission (Energy Commission) awarded a grant of $16,362,500 to Equilon Enterprises LLC a subsidiary of Shell Oil Company (collectively, "Shell") for the introduction of seven hydrogen refueling stations in Northern California.

The hydrogen refueling stations will be built in collaboration with Honda and Toyota, who will provide financial support, at seven Shell-branded retail stations across Northern California; three in the city of San Francisco, and one in each of Berkeley, Sacramento, Citrus Heights and Walnut Creek.

The Energy Commission awarded the grant through its Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP), which invests up to $100 million every year to support innovations in transportation and fuel technologies that help California meet its energy, clean air, and climate change goals.

The hydrogen refueling stations will be installed in strategic locations within the existing network of Shell-branded retail stations, offering existing and future fuel cell electric vehicle drivers high-quality service with simple and straightforward car refueling in minutes. 

PLANO, Texas, Aug. 28, 2017 -- Toyota Financial Services (TFS) announced it is offering payment relief options to its customers affected by Hurricane Harvey. This broad outreach includes any Toyota Financial Services (TFS) or Lexus Financial Services (LFS) customer in the designated disaster areas.

We at Toyota Financial Services care about the safety and well-being of our customers and want to help those impacted by the hurricane. Impacted lease and finance customers residing in the devastated areas may be eligible to take advantage of several payment relief options, some of which include:

  • extensions and lease deferred payments 
  • redirecting billing statements
  • arranging phone or on-line payments

Currently, national gas price average levels out

For the first time in more than 15 days, the national gas price average appears to be leveling out despite Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irma making landfall in the southeast. Holding steady for five days at $2.67, today’s national gas price average is just three cents more expensive on the week. With a seven cents increase, Florida, Indiana and Georgia were among the top 10 states who saw the largest gas price increases on the week, while some states saw gas prices drop by one to six cents (Ohio, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Delaware and Oklahoma). At the end of last week, some Florida and other Southeast states saw consumers flock to gas stations to fill-up on fuel, causing some stations to have gas outages ahead of the storm.

According to the National Hurricane Center, Irma is weakening and will move near the northwestern coast of the Florida Peninsula this morning, will cross the eastern Florida Panhandle into Southern Georgia this afternoon, and move through southwestern Georgia and eastern Alabama tonight and Tuesday. Parts of Florida can expect eight to 20 inches of rain through Wednesday. Much of Georgia, South Carolina, and western North Carolina can expect three to eight inches of rain accumulation. Southern Tennessee and eastern Alabama can expect up to five inches.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao has directed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to issue a Regional Emergency Declaration in advance of Hurricane Irma for the States of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

Emergency Declarations trigger the temporary suspension of certain Federal safety regulations for motor carriers and drivers engaged in specific aspects of the emergency relief, including direct assistance for the immediate restoration of essential services (such as electrical, sewer, water, and telecommunications) or essential supplies (such as food, water, medical supplies, and fuel). “I have directed all USDOT modal administrations to take immediate, pro-active steps in preparation for the impending landfall of this very powerful, and very dangerous hurricane,” Secretary Chao said. “As with Hurricane Harvey, the Department of Transportation will continue to work closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other Federal and State entities to provide every resource available for areas impacted by Hurricane Irma.”

Remnants of Harvey expected to drive gas prices through the month, prospect of Hurricane Irma may impact prices as well

Hurricane Harvey may no longer be raining down on the Gulf Coast, but the storm’s impact continues to drive up gas prices across the country. At $2.65, the national gas price average is 27 cents more expensive on the week. Motorists in 26 states are paying 25 to 44 cents more for a gallon of unleaded compared to seven days ago. In fact, every state in the country has seen gas prices increase except four (Alaska, Idaho, Hawaii and Utah), where prices remain stable. Overall, gas prices are pennies away from topping the highest price ($2.67, August 15-18, 2015) Americans have paid for a gallon of gas in more than two years.

As Texas dries out from Harvey, all eyes are on Hurricane Irma, now a Category 5 hurricane, which currently is expected to hit the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean Tuesday night into Wednesday. A Hurricane Watch is in effect for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

According to the National Hurricane Center, there is an increasing chance that the Florida Peninsula and the Florida Keys may see some impact this coming weekend. However, Irma’s changing storm track could bring an altered forecast in the coming days.

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